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"My Parents Were Taken Away." Snow Falling in Spring By Moying Li…

…is a moving and a powerful, true story about a girl "coming of age in China during the CulturalRevolution;" published by Melanie Kroupa Books – Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview the author, Dr. Moying Li. (the right photo is of Moying as a young girl.)

A.B. At what point did you decide that SNOW FALLING IN SPRING needed to be told? As a child, was the story playing out to you in words as much as it was playing out in real life?

My husband was the one who urged me to write a memoir about my childhood. I did not want to do it at first, being a very private person, but after I finished my first book, Beacon Hill: Life and Times of a Neighborhood, I felt I was stung by the “writing bug,” since I enjoyed the process of writing my first book so much. Initially, I began the book as if I was writing a diary for myself with spontaneity and without inhibition. In the second draft, I paid more attention to form and style, and many versions after that you have the current SNOW FALLING IN SPRING.

A.B. You were so young when these atrocities were happening to you and to your family during the Cultural Revolution in China. You were always close to dangerous situations. How did you survive?

A friend of mine who worked at an orphanage in Lebanon told me that even though most of the children under her care had similar life experiences, their psychological and emotional states were very different. Those who coped better have had at least one person in their lives who has provided them with unconditional love.

I related to her conclusion right away based on my own experience. Although I had gone through a lot as a child, I had never felt short of love. My grandma, my parents, my relatives and friends have always been there for me emotionally, if not physically. I knew growing up that there would always be someone to turn to under any circumstances. And if you read my book, you would understand why. My grandma, Lao Lao, for instance, had given me her complete, unconditional love from the day I was born and that has been, to this day, an irreplaceable source of strength for me.

A.B. Do you ever feel your childhood was robbed from you? And if you could pick one of your lowest points growing up in China, what was it?

I do feel my childhood had been cut short before its time. The lowest point, I think, was between 1966-68 when our house was
searched, my parents taken away, and my school closed down.

A.B. Anyone who reads SNOW FALLING IN THE SPRING will be moved – beyond words – by your use of metaphors, similes and analogies to make your points. Page after page I was transfixed by lines like these:

"To us, eating seemed a necessary nuisance."

"Some memories, like corpses, are better left buried."

"To Aunt Song, cutting her hair was like parting with an old friend."

"How can the course of one’s life be altered by a smile exchanged or a word spoken on a footpath in a park forgotten by time?"

Please share how you were able to make these analogies so effectively and succinctly.

Thank you for the compliment.

I have always enjoyed authors who could bring a situation to life by effectively employing these literary devices. When I read, I have tried to take mental and, sometimes, written notes of sharp metaphors and analogies. By paying careful attention to other people’s writing, you eventually make them your own.

A.B. When I was introduced to your grandmother – early in the story – I immediately connected to you because of my fondness for my own grandmothers and the roles they played in my own development. Could you share with readers who Lao Lao was to you?

She was my guardian angel and my inspiration. By personal example, she taught me the most important lessons about life—how to love, how to be compassionate and kind, how to be true and honest, and how to enjoy what life gives us in abundance: the beauty and bounty of our gardens, the companionship of our animal friends, and the blessings of family and friends.

A.B. Your dad, Baba, also had a huge impact on your life. Why do you think the pacts he made with you were so important to him?

If my grandma, Lao Lao, is the symbol of the heart (She was never a talker), my Baba is a symbol of a good mind combined with a good heart. He is articulate, astute and conscious of his choices and decisions, and is fully aware of what he wants me to inherit from him. For instance, he understands the value of an open, inquisitive, and educated mind. And he instilled in me the love of learning which, in turn, sustained me through the most challenging times of my life. It is this invisible asset that is the biggest gift my father has given me.

Secondly, he also, by example, taught me about loyalty and responsibility. The pact we made by the lake when I was 16 became, to me, the dawning moment when I had crossed the threshold from adolescence into adulthood.

A.B. What main message do you want readers to take away from your story?

I hope my book allows the readers to take away any message they deem important. I believe each of us approaches a book differently, based on our personal experiences and our state of mind at the time. As a result we take away different messages. If a book is rich in content, it will allow readers to harvest
whatever crop they were looking for.

My post notes… Personally, I’d like to thank Moying for this interview. Her book, for me, taught me about perserverence and
underscores the importance and value of family. Ironically,

my posts recently have been about teachers
and their impact on our lives.

So I ask again, who are the people who impacted your life? I don’t need an answer; just read Moying’s story and you’ll learn why you should never forget them.