3 out of 4 stars
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The year 1976 has just begun in China. Chun Ming is a twenty-two-year-old factory worker with a sixth-grade level education, like most people of her age. She is deeply in love with her boyfriend, Fang Si Jun, who the bosses at the factory consider has a political future within the Communist Party. Meanwhile, the political current in China is changing, and groups are rising against the harsh stances of the Cultural Revolution that started in 1966. Chun Ming’s cousin, Jian Huan, and his girlfriend, Lin Nan, are among the so-called counterrevolutionaries. On top of that, her dad, the chief engineer of Project 114, is being accused of being a counterrevolutionary. What is Project 114? What will happen to Chun Ming’s family members? How will the political climate affect Chun Ming’s relationship with Fang Si Jun?
The Sound of Spring by G.X. Chen is a novella consisting of 130 pages that belongs to the romance and historical fiction genres. It centers around the romantic relationship between Chun Ming and Fan Si Jun during the last months of the Cultural Revolution. Chen has a poetic writing style, which is rich in vocabulary. The following is an example of her lovely prose: “The stars in the sky were smiling and singing, sharing our joy. The palm trees moved with their arms, as if dancing, as if nodding. A bright moon hung in the night sky, like a silver mirror, reflecting a pair of lovers cuddling under the trees.”
Besides Chen’s talent with words, my favorite aspect of this novella was that I learned much about the consequences of the Cultural Revolution in China. Its primary purpose was to eradicate capitalism in China. I knew that, but I was not aware of the extreme tactics the government implemented to achieve its goal. Education after sixth grade was eliminated. Most people had to be factory workers. Published books were forbidden unless these came from the nationalized bookseller, Xinhua Bookstore. Another example is that people could only eat with chopsticks.
A professional must have edited the book, as I only found two grammatical errors. Despite this fact and that Chen’s writing is sophisticated, I did not enjoy some elements of the book. Chen overuses exclamation marks and ellipses. These writing techniques made the novella overly dramatic for my taste. I thought that Chun Ming expressed herself too eloquently for having a sixth-grade level education. And, I prefer when an author shows rather than tells. This story is told from Chun Ming’s point of view, and she mostly tells all that happens. At times, I thought the narration sounded like a memoir.
Considering all of the statements mentioned above, I rate The Sound of Spring 3 out of 4 stars. Chen’s has a talent with words and vocabulary, and the readers will learn about the Cultural Revolution and its implications. However, the writing could use some style and tone improvements. I would recommend this novella to fans of romance and historical fiction.
The Sound of Spring
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