Book: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

I finally finished a book from my reading list! Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress has been on the list for forever, and now I can officially cross it off. 

The story is set in China during the Cultural Revolution (around 1972), and tells of two teen boys who are sent away from their family to a remote mountain village to begin their "re-education". They work hard in the village, learning how to farm and live off the land. During their time there, they meet many local people, including another boy who is being re-educated in a nearby village. Through a series of events, they find out that this boy has a suitcase full of books, which have been banned due to the revolution. They do chores for him in exchange for his books. 

The plot of the story isn't quite what I was expecting. The way the back of the book reads, it sounds like the Little Seamstress has a lot to do with them finding the books. However, that is far from the case. In fact, it is the two boys who introduce her to the books, by telling her all about them {as she can't read}. By telling her these stories, she is inspired to live her life. 

At less than 200 pages, it's a short read. I learned a lot about China and the Cultural Revolution, which I'd never heard of before. The writing was simple, but very effective, and I liked the voice of the narrator. The only hiccup was near the end of the book, when the narration changes between several characters. This happens for no reason that I could see, and was a bit jarring. Despite that, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to step out of their comfort zone a little bit. 


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