Book: Wild Swans
Author: Jung Chang
Recommended by: Kelly Fraser, Okotoks Public Library biography collection manager
Description: The story of three generations in 20th century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history.
An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution.
Chang was a Red Guard, then worked as a peasant, “barefoot doctor,” steelworker, and electrician. As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving and ultimately uplifting detail the cycles of violent drama visited on her own family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history.
“When we read biographies, there is a sense of knowing others have complex lives and thoughts just like us, and we may even resonate with another’s circumstances that are very close to our own, such as depression, addiction, grief, a challenging marriage, a joyful triumph or loving a relative with Alzheimer's. We learn about other’s lives, their inner thoughts, solutions to problems, outlooks on life and we gain a sense of being in this human experience of struggles and joys together.” ~ Kelly Fraser