When 15-year-old peasant Wang Lee is kidnapped by ruthless bandits, he is afraid his life is over. But his fear turns to astonishment when a mysterious stranger, beautiful young Mei Lin, rescues him to serve in the forces of the Heavenly Army. As they fall in love, the two Chinese youths are caught up in the heady Taiping Rebellion and the beginning of The New Age. Suddenly they are separated by a new edict: men and women will no longer live or work together. This award-winning tale is of one of Katherine Paterson's best. It was chosen for the American Bookseller "Pick of the Lists" and the Bank Street Children's Book of the Year. Set against a backdrop of one of China's most dramatic periods of history, it follows these two young soldiers as they are torn between the idealism of a movement seeking to restore the Empire to its people-and a perilous desire for each other.
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by Katherine Paterson
"Wang Lee is enslaved by bandits at 15 and grows into manhood as a soldier in the Heavenly Army during the nineteenth-century Taiping Rebellion in China. Narrator Guidall evocatively portrays Paterson's major characters and skillfully captures a culture at war. During this long story, Guidall gives unfailing attention to plot. His sympathetic characterizations of Wang Lee and fellow soldier Mei Lin illuminate nineteenth-century Chinese culture and reveal themes of justice, love, duty, loyalty and faith. Older teens and adults who can appreciate the story's historical perspective and intricate themes will enjoy this epic tale. R.M. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine"
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