Cover Image: One Bright Moon

One Bright Moon

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Member Reviews

Wow, this book really had me torn. I thoroughly enjoy a memoir that teaches me about historic events that up until that point I knew very little about. This is the case with One Bright Moon, which is a coming of age story in Maoist China.
The grueling events that our protagonist witnessed as a child are eye-opening and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to read about it in a very personal way. I often feel like if this type of horrific events are told from the eyes of a person you can start to relate to, that it packs so much more of a punch. This book fully achieved that goal.
I didstruggle with the writing style from time to time and that led to me having some issues with connecting with Andrew. I enjoyed the background and story and setting but at times felt a little detached, especially when Andrew decided to go into depth about things like flying a kite.
Overall I enjoyed it and I took away more knowledge about this time than I had before, but it still left me wanting more of a connection to the writer.

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers Australia and NetGalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This memoir managed to tear my heart apart and get excited at the same time. The author's story is written with lyrics that are both beautiful and painful but also interesting. The struggle started in the 1940's when a child wanted to look to a bright and free future. But the doctrine of communism continues to attack which is sometimes difficult to avoid. Apart from that, the author describes honestly about family values, courage and efforts to seek a better life. It is worth reading for anyone in this world.
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I got roughly a fourth of the way through this book, and while I enjoyed the story, the writing just didn't hit the spot and felt dull at times. A child speaking of the intricacies of communism in a very complicated way and from time to time scattering a "but I didn't understand that" in it felt very, very unnatural (at least the chapters I read so far had been from a child's perspective - as it is a memoir, I understand that it may have changed further on as the author/character grows). With time, my curiosity as to what happens next was overshadowed by it almost seeming like a chore to keep reading.
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ONE BRIGHT MOON by Andrew Kwong is a captivating memoir that I truly loved! This book had me crying at the end! It was so easy to connect to Andrew and his desire for survival and freedom for himself and his family. His perseverance and toughness was absolutely amazing to deal with famine and having to escape China for freedom and education. I’m really glad Andrew shared his story with the world. I definitely recommend this book!
Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers Australia via NetGalley for my advance reading copy!
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'One Bright Moon' is Andrew Kwong's memoir of growing up in small-town China as the son of 'high intellectuals' (college-educated parents), the persecution of his family, and their eventual escape to new lives. 

I've not read a lot about life during the Chinese 'Cultural Revolution'.  I'm much more familiar with books set in North Korea and the centre of my world books universe is the Indian sub-continent. 'One Bright Moon' therefore helped to fill quite a few gaps in my knowledge of how things worked in China but there was something about the book the just didn't grab me the way many other accounts of childhood hardship have. Perhaps I can blame reading too many dissident accounts of North Korea in which cultural indoctrination and starvation were many degrees harsher than Kwong's descriptions of life on the Pearl River delta for leaving me feeling a bit flat. I'm not claiming compassion fatigue - I do still feel horribly sad for all they had to go through - but I have maybe over-shocked myself for too long with other books.

The writing is oddly impersonal. I didn't feel like I knew the writer well for reading about most of his life. I also always doubt the ability of small children to so precisely recall the events and conversations of their childhood.

Kwong's life is an interesting one. He got permission to leave China not once, but twice and his father survived the harsh labour camps of the Mao era and got out early when the camps couldn't afford to keep feeding their prisoners. The love of the family across distance and time is remarkable. The grandmother in Hong Kong has been apart from her husband in Hawaii for many decades and Kwong's parents are separated for many years both inside and outside China. 

I'm glad to have read this and grateful to Netgalley for a free ARC in return for an honest review. That said, it won't be a book that I expect will linger in my memory.
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Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers Australia and NetGalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review. 

In "One Bright Moon", Kwong discusses his painful coming of age in Chairman Mao's China. As a member of the intellectual class, Kwong and his family were subject to unfair levels of scrutiny and police brutality. Eventually subjugated to the worst caste in Chinese society, Kwong becomes disillusioned with Mao's manifesto and works to escape China. After a harrowing few years of fighting the system, he makes the extraordinary journey to Australia and starts a new life. While I enjoyed this book, I would like to mention that for many generations, people in the lower socioeconomic status have had to live just as Kwong and his family live. In fact, in the United States today, many people live in the way Kwong's family had to live. However, because of their lack of access to education, they often can't escape in the same way. Therefore, one of the values that Kwong ironically embraces is the value of education which is something Mao professed too. Overall, a tender coming of age tale!
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