Like “The Hunger Games” I came to this book after viewing the movie. I felt the movie was good but focussed on Cunxin’s life out of China heavily. I wanted to get a stronger sense of Cunxin’s developmental years in China. The book delivered that in spades.
I really enjoyed learning about Cunxin’s early years growing up in the commune. This gave me a real sense of what he was about and how much he was connected to his family. It also helped with understanding the distress when he was removed from the family unit and put into a dance boarding school. The culture shock would have been immense for the young Cunxin.
It is always a voyage of discovery for a young child to discover what they want to do with their life. For Cunxin that discovery was enforced, he would be a dancer. So the portrayal of the struggle about why he should dance and that he indeed would enjoy dance was a wonderful read.
The political overtones were also a necessary requirement. The description of the amount of learning the children were subjected to gives a real sense as to why the community of the time seemed to really love their leader. His regime had a way of manipulating often innocent words to reflect whatever they wanted. Interestingly this extended to former beloved Chinese leaders such as Confuscious, and not just foreign influences. The focus on the punishments also gave the idea that the state was repressed. This provided the perfect backdrop for the eventual discovery of the freedoms offered by western societies and the merits to struggle to earn them.
I loved the book immensely, even more so than the film. I will be watching the film shortly once more. The next book I am to read is Andy McNab’s “The Russian”, a book tied in with the Battlefield 3 game.
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