Suzanne's Reviews > Bamboo People

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
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's review
Nov 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: peach-consideration
Read in November, 2011

A fiction that reads like a memoir, so real seems the voices of its 15-year-old first-person narrators: Burmese Chiko, bookish and worried for an educated father, imprisoned by the ruthless and corrupt government, kidnapped to serve in the army; Karenni Tu Reh, angry at his jungle village's destruction by Brumese soldiers that required his family to move to a Thai camp just across the Burma border. The two are children who are forced to impossible choices and sacrifices in the circumstances so far beyond their control.

A great book for studying world culture, boy soldiers, refugee camps. A good fit for ESOL students, as its prose is extremely simple, almost as if the voices are speaking a second language themselves. Though the protagonists are fifteen, the target audience actually seems young to me, more like middle school. I do think some high school readers would also like it, but there's a dash of didacticism inherent in a tale like this, and the main characters sometimes seem too virtuous to be realistic. It's a story of black and white with little regard for the dingy middle ground. That said, there's little harm in a white hat, lessons learned novel, as long as one knows what to expect.

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