Last week was the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which shocked the world as tanks rolled in on student demonstrations in Beijing, China killing hundreds. So it seemed only fitting to read A Heart for Freedom by Chai Ling, the former commander-in-chief of the student protestors at the square. Of course, it didn’t hurt that it came up free on Kindle for a short time.
This memoir chronicles Chai Ling’s life before becoming involved in the demonstrations, insight into what it was like on the ground at Tiananmen Square and all the details that developed over the weeks leading up to June 4th, and her life after the massacre as she eluded the government and escaped to America. Over two decades later, Chai Ling is still fighting for freedom in China and now it comes from her faith in God.
I wanted to love this book, but I didn’t. In fact, I had to force myself to finish it. I found the details surrounding June 4th fascinating , but overall the book seemed disjointed. It lacked flow. Knowing that Chai Ling learned English as an adult and as someone who works with students trying to learn the language, I understand the difficulties of mastering a language that is not your heart language. The heart of the story is great and I love that decades later she has found hope and a renewed passion for China’s freedom, but it needs some serious editing work.