In the end, Ji-li beats up everyone who ever made fun of her class status, frees her dad from jail, and starts a new revolution of her own. Right? We wish. In reality, not everything is tied up in a neat bow at the end. It's thirty years on, and Ji-li and her family have since moved away from China, but they never got the years (or reputation) back that they lost from the Cultural Revolution. As Ji-li explains:
Thirty years have passed since I was the little girl with the red scarf who believed she would always succeed at everything. I grew up and moved to the United States, but still, whatever I did, wherever I went, vivid memories of my childhood kept coming back to me. After thinking so much about that time, I wanted to do something for the little girl I had been, and for all the children who lost their childhoods as I did. This book is the result. (E.4)
In some ways, the book is Ji-li's answer to the revolution. It's her way of standing up for what she knows is right. With it, she hopes to bring more discussion and friendship between the U.S. and China. It's also a really poetic way to end. Her book becomes her swan song, or final goodbye to the life she once loved and lost.