Chun, a four-year-old girl, witnesses the killings of her whole family on the evening of the Moon Festival, during the middle of the Cultural Revolution. She survives because her parents protected her with their bodies. For the next four years, Chun and her two dogs live together in a hole, surviving on food the villagers offer as a sacrifice of Buddha statues at a temple. After the Cultural Revolution ends, Chun is adopted by Peng?s family. A former Red Guard, Peng was sentenced to death for several crimes, including having killed 21 family members. Peng?s son, Xiaohu, leaves home with Peng?s diary. Chun follows, to bring Xiaohu home. But she is captured and sold several times by human slavers. Chun suffers through all kinds of hardship, until at last she is rescued. After receiving Peng?s diary, which Xiaohu has sent her, Chun at last understands the reason why Peng and his followers became so cruel and lawless. This amazing novel plays out over the years 1966 to 1996 in the suburbs of Beijing, China.