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  • Historically accurate, emotional, and fast-paced

    Vanessa Hua has written a thoroughly researched and deeply moving saga of growing up female in 1960’s China during the Cultural Revolution. At times, this is a difficult story to read, but it’s an accurate portrayal of life in a slowly evolving China during the 1960s. Mei is chosen to go to the Forbidden City; her purpose isn’t clear but she’s determined to be the best and catch the eye of the Chairman. It’s quickly revealed that one of her main duties is to pleasure the Chairman. She sees an opportunity to succeed and provide a better life for her family back home. The recruits, girls from various parts of the country, are cut-throat competitive. Nothing is sacred or safe, and they quickly become vengeful animals capable of anything to get ahead. This is how things are throughout the dynasty; anyone will do anything to gain favor, and the most common cost is death. Mei continues to believe that her family is being provided for, thanks to her undying devotion to the Chairman and her ability to please him, both in and out of the bed. But as she’s exposed to more of the reality, she begins to see through the cracks of the shiny veneer she’s become a part of. Historically accurate, emotional, and fast-paced, this book should be a must-read for anyone who is interested in modern Chinese history or for those who think they have it rough in their own country. Sincere thanks to Random House- Ballantine for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date is May 10, 2022.

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