As the title states. She is a young adult in turbulent times, remembering her childhood, her struggle for an education and very different struggles as a soldier.
A fascinating story, but staggeringly banal in places, which is particularly odd given her love of literature (eg, and I paraphrase, "Sometimes [when on library duty] I was so engrossed in my book, people had trouble getting my attention") - but maybe that's the fault of the translation.
My fondness for this book is perhaps more a reflection on its significance to me (the first book about China that I read), rather than its specific content. Perhaps I should reread now that I am older, and... better-informed.