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William Bell.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 1990.
240pp., paper, $12.95.
ISBN 0-485-25257-9. CIP.

Subject Heading:
China-History-Tiananmen Square Incident, 1989-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Elinor Kelley.

Volume 18 Number 4
1990 July

A novel in the form of a teenager's diary based on the events of 1989 in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

Alexander, seventeen, of Toronto, is taken to China by his father, a famous CBC cameraman, to film the Gorbachev visit. He calls himself a history buff and is dying to see the famous terra cotta army in Xian.

Off they go with the Betacam and other electronic equipment to the Chinese capital. The boy takes Chinese lessons, gets a bicycle and a map, and begins to explore the ancient city. Soon he meet students and is caught up in events on the square. A bullet wounds him in the leg but he is sheltered and taken to safety. His friends die but the tapes survive to take their message to the world outside.

The writing sounds just like the talk of the teenager. The narrative is dotted with Chinese phrases and local colour and explanations and is not dramatic. The reader is more onlooker than participant.

This book may be tried for its immediacy unless the events in eastern Europe have swept the memories of China out of mind.

Elinor Kelley, Port Hope, ON.
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