Nine-year-old Ling is very comfortable with her life; her parents are both dedicated doctors in the best hospital in Wuhan. But when Comrade Li, one of Mao's political officers, moves into a room in their apartment, Ling begins to witness the gradual disintegration of her world. In an atmosphere of increasing mistrust, Ling fears for the safety of her neighbours, and soon for herself and family.
Difficulties mount as friends and neighbours disappear, Ling's father is arrested and she endures vicious tormenting at school because of her bourgeois background. Although her father has been jailed, her family starved and their books burned, Ling survives on wit, hope and courage until the death of Chairman Mao, after which she and her mother have a joyful reunion with Ling's father.
Drawing from her childhood experience, Ying Chang Compestine brings hope and humour to this powerful story of a girl growing up and fighting to survive during the Cultural Revolution.