Ming survived the famine that killed his parents during China's 'Great Leap Forward', and lives a hard but adequate life, working in the fields. When a group of city boys comes to the village as part of a Communist Party re-education program, Ming and his friends aren't sure what to make of the new arrivals.
They're not used to hard labour and village life. But despite his reservations, Ming befriends a charming city boy called Li. The two couldn't be more different, but slowly they form a bond over evening swims and shared dreams…
But as the bitterness of life under the Party begins to take its toll on both boys, they begin to imagine the impossible: freedom.
Freedom Swimmer takes us back to the incredibly hard times of Communist China in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
It is a story that will really open your eyes to a way of life that many of us who have never experienced living life outside of Australia can only imagine. Things were harsh and brutal, with very little food available.
The story is told through the eyes of both Ming, a boy from the village, and Li, who has come from his city life to further spread the word of their leader, Mao. Both boys begin to question all that they have been taught. But this way of thinking in Communist China is dangerous.
Ming dreams of a life with Fei, the young girl that crossed his path when he first found himself as an orphan. But there is little room for love and compassion in such a tough world.
When the boys decide to take the ultimate risk, they know that their lives will be forever changed, regardless of the outcome.
This is a wonderful historical story of courage in the face of adversity, following your dreams, perseverance and friendship.
It is a great read for all secondary students.
Reviewed by Sam