I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
Published by Charlesbridge Publishing on 2012-07-01
Genres: Action & Adventure, Chapter Books, Readers, Survival Stories, Young Adult
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Narrated by two teenage boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of Burma's many ethnic minorities, this coming-of-age novel takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Chiko isn't a fighter by nature. He's a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family's home and bamboo fields. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion when the boys' stories intersect.
You know what sucks? Being a child soldier. For real. One day you are making googly eyes at your hot neighbor, the next you are tricked into joining the army and have no option of leaving. Did I mention your family doesn’t know where you are? For many teens in Burma/Myanmar, this is a reality. I definitely did not know very much about child soldiers until reading the superb book Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins.
Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins follows the civil strife in Burma, between the Karenni which is a splinter ethnic minority living in the region and the Burmese who are told that the Karenni are evil. Bamboo People is written in two distinct halves. One half is narrated by Chiko, a 15 year old Burmese boy who dreams of teaching. Instead, he finds himself caught up in war. The last half is narrated by Tu Reh, a Karenni boy who lives in a refugee camp and also fights the Burmese.
Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins provides a powerful look at war and it’s role in the lives of young people. We see the results of choices and how they impact a situation for better or worse. We see there are humans on both sides. Rarely is war so simple as good guys vs. bad guys.
I found Bamboo People to be quite thought-provoking. It has made me interested in finding out more about this conflict. Let’s be honest, I don’t often think about Burma. What I think is fabulous is when a book like this can raise the topic and put it on my radar.