170. My Name is Number 4

My Name is Number 4: A True Story from the Cultural Revolution by Ting-Xing Ye

Pages: 230
Finished: Oct. 26, 2008
First Published: September 2008
Genre: YA, memoir
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from the publisher. Also qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.

First sentence:

The morning of my exile to the prison farm arrived, a characteristic November day in Shanghai, damp and chilly with an overcast sky.

Comments: This Young Adult memoir is an abridged edition of the author's 1997 adult book of memoirs A Leaf in the Bitter Wind. I find the Cultural Revolution amazing to read about. It is almost impossible to believe it happened as it sounds so much like dystopian literature. But the reality is that it did indeed happen and millions of Chinese people were brutally treated in their own country. Ting-Xing relates her childhood at the beginning of the Revolution and the hardship of her 5 orphaned siblings living with an adored Great Aunt who wasn't really a relative at all. The story of how her life quickly changed from school girl to political exile on a prison farm out in the countryside.

An astonishing and tumultuous tale from beginning to end. I was hooked from the outset and felt deeply for this girl who spent her late adolescence on a work farm. The story ends with her finally leaving the farm after six years and being allowed to go to university as an English major.

Not included in the book is how she became an English-Chinese interpreter and eventually defected to Canada in 1989 and now lives with fellow Canadian author, William Bell. Highly recommended!


  1. Oh! I have this on my TBR list. Looks good.

  2. I've read a couple reviews of this book and have it on my TBR list (to get), but I didn't realize it was an abridged version of an adult memoir. Have you read the other one?

  3. No, Trish, I hadn't realized that either until I read the copyright page and no I haven't read the previous adult book. I think I will at some point when the story is not so fresh in my mind.


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