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American Book 427304 The Bitter Sea

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Adult/High School-Li was born in 1940 to a harsh and punitive father and an emotionally distant mother. Hyperactive and curious, the lonely little boy was forbidden to go outdoors, and his only companion was his kindly nurse. When the political power shifted, Li's father was imprisoned and the family sent to live in a disease-infested slum. Yet Li was happy there, running wild with a gang of boys. His newfound freedom was short-lived, and he was sent to an eccentric but caring aunt in Shanghai, where he had to learn a new dialect, was taunted by classmates, and found himself at odds with the academic expectations. With the fall of Shanghai to the Communists, Li went to his parents in Hong Kong, where his father had sought refuge after prison. Li's education included expulsion, abusive homeschooling, and a middle school where he excelled. Finally, Li's father, in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the Communist party, sent his son to a brutal reform school. The fiercely independent Li failed the final exam and realized that he had been manipulated by his father and the school. Returning home, he succumbed to depression and "vulgar materialism" before coming to accept his heritage and his father. This candid memoir by an engaging and sympathetic narrator will be of special interest to students of politics and history.-Jackie Gropman, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Li (linguistics, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara), who had an extraordinary life growing up in pre-Communist China, shares his story of betrayal, loss, hope, and triumph in this lyrical account. Li was initially privileged, but after his father was imprisoned by Chiang Kai-shek, he had to steal to survive. Later, living with his Christian aunt in Shanghai, Li observed the Communist takeover of 1948 and concluded that the worst war crime was the fear inflicted on citizens. When his mother joined a seminary, he was forced to live with his inattentive father in Hong Kong, where he learned by chance that while the family starved, his father had $25,000 saved to start his own political movement. He was happy when his father began teaching him about politics but was then sent to reform school, which he left as a six footer weighing 96 pounds. He finally withdrew from his father and with his mother's help went to America to study. This brilliant memoir is as much about modern Chinese history as it is about familial relationships. Recommended for all public and academic libraries with collections on China or the immigrant experience.-Susan G. Baird, Chicago Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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