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Scar of the Bamboo Leaf

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"That boy is like the bamboo...foreign and unknown in this environment. But like the bamboo, if you plant and nurture it in the right soil, it has the potential to grow vibrant and strong."

Walking with a pronounced limp all her life has never stopped fifteen-year-old Kiva Mau from doing what she loves. While most girls her age are playing sports and perfecting their traditional Samoan dance, Kiva finds serenity in her sketchbook and volunteering at the run-down art center her extended family owns, nestled amongst the bamboo.

When seventeen-year-old Ryler Cade steps into the art center for the first time, Kiva is drawn to the angry and misguided student sent from abroad to reform his violent ways. Scarred and tattooed, a friendship is formed when the gentle Kiva shows him kindness and beauty through art, until circumstances occur beyond their control and they are pulled away.

Immersed in the world of traditional art and culture, this is the story of self-sacrifice and discovery, of acceptance and forbearance, of overcoming adversity and finding one’s purpose. Spanning years, it is a story about an intuitive girl and a misunderstood boy and love that becomes real when tested.

First published July 9, 2014

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About the author

Sieni A.M.

4 books77 followers
Sieni A.M. is a world traveler, avid reader, and aspiring writer. She was born and raised in the South Pacific, graduated from the University of Canterbury, and is currently living in Australia with her husband and two daughters.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/illumineher
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/illumineher/

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews
Profile Image for Paula M.
547 reviews643 followers
October 25, 2019
You can also read my review here.



I can't remember the last time I've cried this hard. It's beautiful, people! It's heartbreaking and beautiful.

I'm sorry in advance if you think this review is short. It's just, it's SO GOOD I DON'T THINK MY REVIEW CAN JUSTIFY HOW GOOD IT IS.

If you read the blurb, you'd think that it's another bad boy and good girl love story. But it's not. It's so much more than that. The timeline of the story starts from Kiva and Ryler when they're young and still understanding the meaning and ways of love and it lasts until they grew old, got reunited and realized that YES... they do belong to each other. Kiva has a disability but still looks in the beautiful side of things. And Ryler's an Arab who is lost and found his way to Samoa.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf is a heartwrenching read written in the most beautiful way possible. Sieni is.. amazing. Her words slays! They cut through me. I admit that reading this story is difficult. It really pained me at some chapters, but it's poignant. Meaningful and moving.

eat it

More reason to love this novel is the setting and the art that comes with this novel. I was enthralled by the way Sieni describes Kiva's culture. You guys, I'm not very good at art, like, the only thing I can make is stick figures but... everytime there's a chapter where Kiva is doing her art.. I feel like picking up a paintbrush. As I said above, Sieni's words slays. It's affecting me in every way possible.

So... do I recommend this? You bet your butt that I do! This is definitely one of my favorite reads this year.

Profile Image for Billie Lawson.
487 reviews22 followers
February 22, 2015
This book is a hard book for me to review. The prose was beautiful and heartfelt with an abundance of culture dispersed throughout the story. Although at times the dialogue felt a little too "mature" for the age of the characters, I still connected to them and appreciated the lyrical nature of her writing. The ending completely caught me off guard, and I am still processing where the author went with their story. I am very thankful for my friend who recommended this book...this author definitely deserves some recognition for her work!!
Profile Image for Sahar Sabati.
Author 22 books24 followers
September 21, 2014
There are books that make you dream. Then there are books that sweep you off your feet and welcome you into a dream.

Reading Sieni A.M.’s second novel, Scar of the Bamboo Leaf, was a little bit like the latter. Regular readers of my reviews will no doubt remember how much I loved her first book, Illumine Her. Although sporting some typical first-time author mistakes, the book made me dream. Sieni surpassed herself with Scar of the Bamboo Leaf, in which she manages to touch the hearts of readers through an honest yet heartwarming story.

When Kiva Mau’s mother wanted to get away from the responsibilities of parenthood, she gave her child to her sister and brother-in-law before heading out for lands unknown. Although Kiva is raised by loving surrogate parents, she carries a constant external reminder of her deep, inner pain, in the form of a limp due to one leg being significantly shorter than the other. But despite the many difficulties she carries, Kiva is a patient, loving, and caring young woman, eager to reach out to others through her love of arts, the foremost being sketching and painting.

Ryler carries scars of his own. Prejudices abound in the small town he lives in, and Ryler dealt with the ignorant and cruel comments in the only way he knows: with his fists. On the cusp of ruining his future prospects for good, his parents send him off to Samoa to a school for troubled teenage boys. One of the school’s classes are with Kiva’s uncle, whom she ends up assisting, her aunt kept from fulfilling her duties because of an injury.

When these two troubled, scarred, and hurting souls meet, they are able to help one another one very small step at a time. This is not your miraculous story in which the characters are completely transformed after a mere day or two. Scar of the Bamboo Leaf spans a number of years during which each character is moulded by the consequences of their actions and under the influence of the relationships in their lives.

The rawness and authenticity of the story are no doubt related to the fact that Sieni pulled inspiration for it from real life, albeit in sometimes completely different places. The character Kiva is inspired in part by someone she met who was born with a deficient length in her leg. And while the art center, Kiva’s sketches and paintings are made up, art does have an important place in Sieni’s own life, and not just because of her writing. An active member of her community, she has both seen and used the power of the arts to bring people together as well.

Samoa is host of a school for troubled boys much like the one Ryler is sent to. The author was able to interview one of the students who, through immersion in the culture of the country, had completely transformed from violent kid to one with insights on life transcending that of other youth his age. As for Ryler and Kiva’s story, Sieni told me that she liked the idea of two flawed characters coming together in their imperfect way and focusing on the way they could arise to meet various challenges.

Hana, Kiva’s cousin, was the most interesting supporting character in the book. Through her, we get to see the way man’s lower nature can take over the higher nature. While Hana’s treatment of Kiva is inspired by her own insecurities, resulting in heart wrenching moments of cruelty, it does not mean that she is a soulless being who cannot change. Sieni also shows us how the higher nature of man can conquer the lower when given the right impetus. And yet again, it isn’t one of those stories in which Hana suddenly becomes perfect. She is laying in the bed she made and reaping the consequences of her actions, which inspire her to slowly make difference decisions. It is a slow and sometimes arduous path, the portrayal of which can be very powerful for readers engaged in their own struggles to control their lower nature. And just like in real life, where mutual support and accompanying are essential to personal spiritual development, Kiva’s understanding towards her cousin becomes ones of the crucial elements that give Hana the space needed to start conquering her lower nature and becoming a better person.

The ending was both beautiful, poetic, and significant, but very difficult to read. And after talking to the author, it seems that it wasn’t much easier to write, either. I was told that she cried her eyes out while writing it for at least a week. I asked her why she would write such an ending, and she confided that she hoped that this unconventional love story ends on an inspiring note through this difficult ending. One thing for sure; although I did not like the ending, it definitely is part of the reason I still can’t stop thinking about this book.

Despite being set in the real world, Scar of the Bamboo Leaf is imbibed with a magic of its own. I read it in two sittings (I couldn’t put it down!) and when I was done, felt like I was wrapped in a cozy, comfortable cocoon. It will not only transport you into a land of luscious vegetation and amazing food, but also will make you think about the relationships that define us and inspire you to both reach out to loved ones struggling as they try to conquer their lower selves, and to take yet another step down the path you yourself are walking.

A must read for the summer of 2014.

First published at http://blogcritics.org/book-review-sc... and at http://www.saharsreviews.com/book-rev....
Profile Image for Jules .
372 reviews103 followers
October 7, 2014
I had to stifle my sobs because I was in my dorm room. Y U DO DIS???? I HURT... HAHAHAHA


More review at my Jules Bookshelf


I never thought that this book would really touch me in any way because at first, it wasn’t the kind of book that I thought I would like. But it proved me wrong because its one of the most meaningful and touching books I’ve ever read.

I had to admit that at the start I was getting a little bored, it was all an introduction at first, but after the first quarter of the book, everything was getting better and much more interesting. I love the story, it was simple yet unique. Talking about two unique characters, Kiva and Ryler.

I’m gonna make this short and easy. As an artist, I appreciate how well Sieni showed how much art means to Kiva, it made me connect with her in a way. Because even I’m impulsive as she is when it comes to painting. Her impulsive need to sketch is very adoring in a way (it reminds me too much of what I feel when I paint). The setting was also well written. I could imagine the place very well, it can get a bit TMI sometimes, but not too much to make me notice a lot, and get distracted. Then the second would be the story itself. Could I say that it would be the usual kind of a rough boy meets artistic sweet girl? Eeeeeeh, not really. I mean, the story is basic, but the way that Sieni wrote it, she made it more meaningful and touching. Its low key but apt for the kind of characters that she made. The development of the story is… *speechless*

Then there’s the characters. :> I really really like the development that I saw from them, its not really a big development like (bad boy turns into good boy, kind of a thing). Its just that, I saw them become the greatest version of themselves. Kiva overcame this stigma of hers that she is a burden to her family. I love that she grew in a sense that she learned to accept herself and not think of herself as someone who could drag her family down. Ryler was, like a gently giant. He is hard in the outside but completely soft in the inside. I’m not usually attracted by guys like him, but he had this appeal and charm that you would want to know more about him. I love how he handled his feelings for Kiva as well. It was refreshing to see the things he did in order to be with Kiva. He pursued her in a different way compared to the usual romance that happens in other YA novels.

But despite all the light feel of this book. It held such significance because of the message Sieni wanted to say. Racism is something that I really don’t understand of even agree on, because it feels too much like stereotyping, which I am annoyed and angry most of the time with. Sieni delt well with this topic. She showed me another true, albeit harsh reality of what this kind of stereotype make people so blind and hurtful towards other races or even towards each other.


The end was… okay I guess. I actually cried a bit because this book will just give you little pinpricks to the heart because its very very raw and emotional. Overall, this book was one of the most genuine and memorable books I’ve read this year. I think everyone should have the chance to get this book. Because I know, that in a way. This book would be able to touch other people’s/readers’ hearts as well.

Thank you Ms. Sieni for providing a copy! It was a real honor :D
Profile Image for Carissa.
43 reviews3 followers
November 6, 2015
I can't put into words how this book made me feel, or how it has tweaked my perceptions. This book struck my soul. It showed me the reality of what strength and beauty and grace are. Kiva is who we should all try to be. Her character is unparalleled.

Read this book.

After more thought I am changing my rating to 5 stars. I just can't get over how utterly amazing this book is.
Profile Image for Tracey Poueu-Guerrero.
Author 3 books25 followers
August 2, 2014
I have now had a few weeks to recover emotionally. It took me about a day and a half to finish. This book tugged at my heart and soul like no other. There are stories that are entertaining ... then there are stories that will stay with you for far greater reasons. That is how I feel about Kiva and Ryler's story. I love how Sieni includes so many details about the Samoan culture (the good and not so good lol). As an afakasi growing up in the states, I've only had the pleasure of visiting Samoa once when I was a teenager. Sieni's books give such great detail of many Samoan traditions ... other things about our culture and life on the island that I have never experienced or witnessed. Reading this heartwarming (and at times, heartwrenching) coming of age love story --- I sighed and aw'd at the young romance and appreciated the growth of their relationship as they grew older. Awesome job Sieni!! Keep these amazing stories coming.
Profile Image for Litiana ✨.
37 reviews
September 4, 2015
Sieni, you are a puppet master of my emotions rite now that I can't seem to contain. This book was definitely a roller coaster ride filled with tears. Thanks a lot (sarcastic tone) lol by far one of my favorite books because I relate it to it more than anything. I especially loved the words of encouragement. Very well thought out. At some point I felt like I was reading my own story. Beautifully written.
Profile Image for Big Book Theory.
325 reviews17 followers
April 19, 2017
I enjoyed reading this beautifully written novel with real and lovable characters. The story's vivid imagery made me feel as if I was there in Somoa with Kiva. I could clearly imagine her gait, the busride from school, her doing the washing and hanging it. I was immersed in a world of tradition and culture. This is a really, really nice story and it touched me deeply. It made me cry!
169 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2016
I read it in 2 days. I loved the story even though the ending was heart-wrenching. Beautifully done, Sieni :)
Profile Image for Francine Brunt-Collins.
1 review6 followers
March 1, 2016

I read Sieni's first book "Illumine Her" and thoroughly enjoyed it so I figured I'd read this too... And I am so glad that I did.

Each and every character in this story, has their own story and you cannot help but to like them all.
The story centers around Akiva. You get to read a few chapters from Ry's perspective but the story is primarily Kiva's.

Kiva is a beautiful soul... Her track of thought, her innocence, her purity - you cannot help but to love her and to want her to be happy. I think I loved her straight off the bat. She was born with a deformity, a condition that has haunted her for her entire life and was placed in the care of her Aunty by a mother who she believed didn't want her... but she doesn't really allow it to limit her. She struggles with insecurities here and there, like all girls and women do - but art is her salvation and it allows her to express herself in ways that her body and words cannot.
Ry was a brooding, angry, misunderstood teenage boy. Being culturally diverse and not knowing anything about his father except for his Arab ethnicity, he struggled with racism, prejudice and judgement his entire life and it forced him to resort to violence as a means of defending himself and defending the culture he was so hungry to hold on to. Forced to go to Samoa as a last resort by his mother and step father, he evolved into such a caring, passionate and selfless young man... who is inspired by and falls in love with Kiva.

Kiva and Ry's love was so beautiful, so honest and so chaste. Each conversation they had, every thought that crossed Kiva's mind about him, every observation she made... Had me entrhalled. It was almost as though I had gotten under Kiva's skin and had become her myself. I found myself imagining their future, their happily ever after and...


My heart is broken! :( I'm a sucker for a happy ending and the fact that this ended with Ry dying has devastated me. They had both endured so much suffering and hardship and they deserved their happily ever after DAMN IT! Everything throughout the story had been leading to it and I couldn't help but to think "It feels too good to be true" and as it turns out, it was. I've cried throughout several books in my life time, but this time I feel like I actually need to grieve. It's been tough!!! A part of me is so angry at Sieni for ending it this way, but another part of be is grateful that she did because it's so close to reality, that I cannot help but to appreciate it. It was a risk she had embarked on by choosing to end it the way she knows no one would want it to end, but it was a reality check of sorts. We don't always get a happy ending... Sometimes we get our hearts broken, even if we've endured more than we deserve and every ache, every scar, every tear is a lesson and life itself is a test.

To be honest, since completing this read, I'm left feeling so melancholic and despondent but I know it will pass.

To Sieni, thank you for creating such a vivid, pure and heartwarming love story. Too many authors focus on the more erotic and physical aspects of love and neglect the emotional and internal side of it and I love that you were able to keep it chaste and clean throughout. Thank you!
Profile Image for Tamara.
270 reviews38 followers
April 10, 2015
5 "Bamboo girl" stars!

Such a beautiful, honest, heartwarming and inspirational story! WOW. Words cannot express how moving this epic story is.

This book has been on my radar since it came recommended by Amy Harmon. Now, months later, I was desperate for something new, longing for a story that would rock me to the core. And boy did it rock me!

I finished this in the wee hours of the morning, tears streaming down my face. I don't get easily emotional when I'm reading, and ironically enough, the last book that had me sobbing and bawling like a baby was a book by the author who recommended Scar of the Bamboo Leaf. And now, hours after I finished it, I think of the story again while tempting to write a review, and I'm getting all teary again. Not many books do this to me. That, to me, is the solid proof of a good story. One that makes you feel everything.

The moment I finished it, I sent said author a message: "I just finished Scar of the Bamboo Leaf. So beautiful but my heart is broken..."

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf is a story that should not be missed. Not only is the story so heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, also the writing is impeccable. It was obvious from the very first few pages that I'd finish it in a record time. And while I did wanted to slow down and inhale every word, I was eager to know what would come next and at the same time being afraid to turn the page. You literally feel that somehow, someway, something is going to happen... And then, when you think you can't take any more of the heartache or think you're not going to be able to swallow the lump in your throat that has been there since the very beginning, Sieni A.M. makes you ride that rollercoaster once more.

I don't know if any of the above makes sense or not... If it does, great. If it doesn't, then you should only know that I highly recommend you to read this beautiful story. This is an epic love story that spans over many years. The characters are perfectly flawed, pure and honest.

I do not know the author other than because of this book. But I do know now, that if an author is able to write a story like this, that she has a beautiful personality with an even more beautiful soul.
I'm a fan. And I'm looking forward to read more!

Thank you, Sieni. For all the obvious research you've done for this. For the joy and the heartbreak, for making me feel, for making me cry. For giving me everything I want and crave in a story. Thank you.

If you want to read this, all I can say is "be prepared" to take this ride. Lock yourself away and have tissues at hand. And while you may end up with a broken heart just like me, know that every tear you'll shed, will be worth it.

And one last note, if you're hesistant to read it because this book doesn't have the "typical" romance cover (anno 2014/2015), you'll see that when you finish this story, it means so much more. It means everything.
I'm just going to order a paperback now. This will get its place on my shelf of epic reads.

Profile Image for Genesis Reyes (Whispering Chapters).
942 reviews280 followers
October 22, 2015
If you love The Fault In Our Stars , then you must read Scar of the Bamboo Leaf .

This is a story about finding ourselves, where we belong, what we we're meant to do. Kiva is a great young woman who got a rough start in life when she was born with a leg shorter than the other. Kiva has lived with her uncle Mau and aunt Naomi for her whole life. Her mother, Viola abandoned her and left her with Naomi and she left Samoa, never to return.

Ryler "Ry" got sent to Samoa's Toa Boys' Academy to finish his senior year, seeing as he would keep getting into trouble in the States, even almost killing a guy in a fight. This academy gives treatment and therapy to troubled boys, like Ry.

Ry and Kiva meet at an art school program where Mau and Naomi give art class. Naomi hurt her hand and Kiva steps in to help Mau and this is where Kiva befriends Ry, after seeing his art work and realizing he had scars—inside and outside—that she wanted to find out. They become very close and Kiva starts having feelings for this amazing guy. Mau realizes the potential Ry has and how great of a person he truly his and decides to take him under his swing, to assist him with the carving wood project at the art school and Kiva and Ry start getting closer as time passes.

Unfortunately, Ryler finishes his program and he leaves without saying goodbye to Kiva. Ryler grew up and matured so much. He finished college but decided he wanted to be a volunteer at the Peace Corps, which he joined and that's how he returned to Samoa four years later. Ry and Kiva meet again and their story builds, their friendship grows until they finally confess their love for one another. But the story obviously doesn't end there. You MUST read and find out what happens.

My heart was torn apart and I cried a lot. I kept thinking it would have a different ending, but I was mistaken. I keep suffering just thinking about it. I liked all of the characters, not once complaining about the characters. At first, I didn't like Hana, Kiva's cousin because of her bad attitude and how she would treat Kiva but I guess you can blame it on teenage years and feeling unwanted for a while. I'm glad she redeemed herself and ended up being a great human being.

I fell in love with Kiva and Ry's friendship so much. They were there for one another, through thick and thin. They are so adorable and you can't help but want that kind of relationship that they had, whether it be friendship or a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.

This is a story that stays with you forever, like TFIOS. Fifty years from now, I will still remember this story. It is one so deep it grips your heart tight and doesn't let go until it ends.

Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript of a diving letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
This universe is not outside of you.
Look inside yourself;
everything you want,
you are already that.

Profile Image for Bnice.
75 reviews
February 19, 2016
I have to admit when I began the book it kind of dragged, but I endured and was happy that I did. I enjoyed it and being able to connect with the atmosphere in SAMOA and the culture was a big plus for me. I was able to relate to all the situations that occurred. I try to support our Polynesian authors by reading and purchasing their books- so I'm glad I did!

Mativa, born and raised in Samoa, was my favorite character in this book along side her partner Ryler. She was a young artist with a leg length deficiency which already tells you she's gona be one strong girl and indeed she was. Ryler is from the states and was shipped off to SAMOA to a disciplinary school so to speak. They meet up through an Art class that was given by Mativa's uncle.
Their journey was cute and when the story unfolds towards the end of the book that's what really sparked my attention and emotions.
Mativa and Ryler both had their issues with family, self identity, self worth, a longing to be accepted, to be loved and with their team work they are able to conquer things together.
I enjoyed getting to know Mativa and Ryler and taking their journey with them.

One part of the book I want to mention was so touching - This is Ryler speaking to Mativa -
"Do you know what else I want, Kiva? What? She whispered. "I want your heart. Not all of it because I know that it also belongs to your art and your family, to your dreams." But I want the part that deserves to love and be loved in return. And I would take care of it, Kiva. I would. You just have to let me. I remember when you mentioned once that everyone's worthy of that kind of love. I went away because I wanted to be worthy of you. She was speechless again, caught between incredulity and affection, as her heart swelled at his proclamation. "Its always been yours, Ry. Always."

Now that right there was some good stuff. I left out some stuff but you get the jist of it.
Another few lines which really sparked my attention was Mativa's mother - Viola and this is what she said to her: "But here's the thing about love. It doesn't become real until you've suffered and sacrificed yourself in its path."
That right there was deep for me. LOVE is a complicated yet STRONG word! There are so many meanings to the one word, it makes you do crazy and foolish things, it makes you warm and comforted, it makes you do things out of character, but one thing I know- everyone needs it!!

Thanks for a good read Ms. Sieni. Speaking of Love, I'm still looking for it, but when least expected, I'm sure it will slap me in the face or kick me in the neck or something PUHLEAASE! haha just kidding.
Profile Image for Hollyberry.
186 reviews14 followers
September 21, 2014
In this story we follow Kiva from about the age of 15 to around 22. She lives with her Aunt and Uncle in Samoa. This is the first time that I have read anything located in this area of the world, and I loved how the author not only told the story of Kiva, but also weaved in some Samoan culture and tradition, it really opened my eyes to what life is like there.

Kiva walks with a limp as when she was born her legs were not the same length. She feels left out of some of the culture and traditions like typical Samoan dances and things, however, she does not let this become who or what she is.

It has been a long time since I have read a book with so many powerful messages in it, and it was written in a way that they were not shoved in your face or anything, it was beautiful.

The other main character that we meet is Ry, he lives in the US with his Mom and Step-Dad, however, due to his actions and violence that he is constantly bringing in to his life, they send him to Samoa to go to school for his last year of high school, it is not exactly a military school, but it is close.

Kiva meets Ry when his school is brought to her Uncles art studio for classes on carving. She notices him right away as he stands out from all the other students. He is not in a good spot in his life when he comes there, and he is not looking to make new friends. As situations arise, they are put together more and more and do end up being friends. I think that it was good for both of them, she calms him down, and he makes her realize what she is living without.

She is an artist, and she has dreams of going to school and studying art. She gets a scholarship to go to a different country and study, however, it is only for classes that she is not interested in, and her Uncle ends up having a stroke, so she declines the scholarship in the end. She feels like she has to stay with her family now more than ever, but it does take a toll on her.

This book covers so many different relationships that we have in life, from family to friends to romantic ones. They are all written very realistically and from the heart, I would be interested to know where the inspiration came from.

If you are looking for a good coming of age story from two different perspectives, this is the book for you! I give this one a 4/5 and cannot wait to read more of what the author has to offer.
Profile Image for Hannah.
Author 9 books44 followers
September 2, 2014
Note: This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review
Scar of the Bamboo Leaf is a book which is best described as stunning. The words flow on the page like works of art, which is apt considering there are such strong links with art in this book.
I found myself pulled in by Kiva's story, and drawn into her world. I loved that through her story I could explore a different culture.
This book has an effortless beauty to it. The writing style tugs at your emotions and gets you really attached to the characters.
The characters themselves were well written, and developed so nicely that they felt real to me as I was reading this book.
There's a wonderful blend of family issues, love story and personal struggle in this book. There's love and tragedy and everything in between, and each emotion is handled in a delicate and enthralling way.
There is no doubting that this book is an emotional rollercoater, and there were parts which did have me in tears.
One of the things that I loved about this book was that it spanned so many years, and yet the jumps never felt jarring. The passages flowed gently from one to another, and the pacing, as a result, was spot on.
There were just enough big moments to keep me on the edge of my seat, and just enough emotion that it kept me longing for more.
Kiva's world is touched by tragedy and yet this book manages to shed a lot of focus on the beautiful things. I think in part this is because Kiva is such a wonderful main character.
Culture, art, family, love and tragedy come together in this book to create a stunning story of Kiva's self-discovery.
I would highly recommend this book. It's a stunning read.


Profile Image for Shelby.
219 reviews6 followers
September 21, 2014
** I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review **

There are no words I could possibly use that could ever adequately describe how epically beautiful Scar of the Bamboo Leaf is. If you are debating whether or not to read this book, debate no more. Take the plunge my friend! Kiva's story will stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

I could write my own version of a synopsis but that's already been done so instead I will toss random phrases at you like -- "stunningly beautiful portrayal of young love" and "timeless" and "masterfully written". Seriously, this book was all of those things and then some.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf is set in Samoa. I'll admit that Samoa is a place I've never given a second thought to, but thanks to this author's vivid detail and obvious love of the culture, it's a place that I immediately wanted to visit and get to know for myself. Amazing detail and imagery is only one great thing about this book. The storyline is flawless and the characters are second to none. I adored Kiva and Ry, Mau and Naomi, little Talia, and even Hana (though I did want to give her a good smack once or twice).

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf quickly worked its way into my heart and to the top of my "favorite books" list. Have the tissues handy and be prepared for one of the biggest book/character hangovers you've ever experienced!
Profile Image for WTF Are You Reading?.
1,301 reviews88 followers
September 6, 2014
Scar Of The Bamboo Leaf is the bitter-sweet tale of one girl's journey to self-discovery, belonging, and acceptance.
Kiva is a girl who has always longed for a place. A place in her family. A place in her society. A place to belong.
Being born with one leg shorter than the other, a condition which gives her a pronounced limping gait, and excludes her from much of the youthful activity of "normal" youths of her age.

For her it is art that has provided her with the much needed refuge that her tender heart seeks.
The tradition ladened beauty of her native Samoa, providing her with the inspiration that she needs.
The lush backdrop also provides a story within a story for readers as well.
This is also the story of young Ryder Cade. Angry, misunderstood, but so full of promise and fire. Cade makes a very unlikely friend for Kiva, but they find a connection through the beauty of art.
Just as it seems that Kiva finds all that she seeks the story takes a heart breaking turn and....

Needless to say, this is not a story to be read without Kleenex.
The descriptive and lyrical prose, dynamic characters, complex and dramatic plot, and poignant message of this wonderful read is in a word...remarkable!
Profile Image for Ravioli Rachel.
54 reviews12 followers
July 16, 2014
The second novel by Sieni A.M. takes us back to Samoa. Different than her first book in that we don't have the paranormal twist-- We are however, introduced to a story about growing up, family, and finding yourself.

Once again Sieni is able to capture our attention and describe Samoa with such realism that you want to hop on a plane and visit. This bittersweet story will also capture your heart as we enter the life of Kiva the artist. A girl who doesn't let her disability stop her from achieving whatever she sets her mind to.

I highly recommend giving this book a whirl, especially if you enjoyed her first book, enjoy a good bittersweet romance, or enjoy a book with a good descriptive setting (like Samoa). Scar of the Bamboo Leaf is a clean romance that you wouldn't mind the younger eyes in your family reading either.

Overall, bravo to Sieni's second novel. I can't wait to continue to see what future books she has in store for us.
Profile Image for Trisha.
842 reviews11 followers
September 4, 2014

This is a very deep and serious book about a girl, Kiva, who could have very well lost herself in the black of the world, the anger, the storm, the despair, the everything dark, as she was dealt a pretty lousy hand as a baby and a child growing up. But her birth mother did one thing right, she gave Kiva to her sister, Naomi, as a baby to raise as her own and to care for and nurture, to love. Naomi and her husband loved Kiva and helped her to grow and see past her disabilities to her abilities as a awesome artists, and Kiva grew up a very happy child, despite everything life threw at her along the way into adulthood, as you will read, Kiva always worked through the hard times and never forgot her dreams. This is such a inspirational book on so many levels that it should be on everyone's to read list! This was a wonderful read even with all the books complexities, it worked to tie it all together and it shows how real life works not a fairytale life like in most romance novels.
Profile Image for Sonjel.
8 reviews3 followers
July 16, 2014
Sieni A. M.'s first novel, Illumine Her, was richly vivid with Samoan culture, language and scenery. Although a work of fantasy, you felt you as though you were in the very heart of Samoa in a way you would never experience as a tourist. Scar of the Bamboo Leaf also envelopes you in the Samoan way of life but this novel is more real. And I'm not just saying that because there's no fantasy element to this novel -- I say this because its characters are more believable and loveable, its plot more twistingly and subtlety complex and its dialogue more compelling. Its prose is lovely and I love the values it espouses. I really, really enjoyed Illumine Her but I loved this one even more. I devoured this book in huge, hungry bites. I can't wait to see what Sieni writes next!
Profile Image for Jey .
553 reviews
April 19, 2015
Beautiful written, heartfelt and touching story of a young Samoan girl and the boy who stole her heart and soul.
The ending gutted me and I wasn't expecting it but the stunning prose and lyrical descriptions of Samoan life were so realistic, you felt as though you lived there, experienced their life and took this journey with them.
Profile Image for Amber.
126 reviews
September 10, 2014
This book!!!! THIS BOOK!!! It came out of nowhere as "Would you like to read my book" and it became part of my soul!!!

Full review to come.

It's rare to find diversity in contemporary literature but even more rare to happen upon a book this beautiful.
5 reviews
March 19, 2015
Roller coaster ride of epic proportions!

A story that was engaging and filled with so much emotion and deep meaning! To see someone overcome so much and still press forward is inspiring!
1 review
June 15, 2015

There is not much to say except speechless in a good way. Loved the story from beginning to end. I would recommend to anyone
Profile Image for Hope.
149 reviews
August 16, 2014
Loved it! Been a long time since a book made me cry! Beautiful story!
17 reviews
March 6, 2021
Spoilers included

My heart is broken! I’m ugly crying over here. This book was so beautiful! It was everything that I needed in a book. I couldn’t put it down and I finished it in one day. I’m just going to imagine a HEA in my head, but I know the ending was what was needed for their story. I figured there wouldn’t be a HEA when Ry shared the story of the heartbroken poet.

One of my favorite parts of this story outside of Ry and Kiva’s relationship was how effortlessly Samoan culture was infused into the storyline. I loved that Kiva continued to be the obedient and selfless Samoan daughter throughout the entire book. I also loved how Samoan art was celebrated!

I’ll also just go ahead and imagine Tui and Kiva’s relationship because I can already tell that it’s so beautiful!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
May 28, 2020
Pacific Young Adult Lit

This book was beautifully written! I loved how the different cultures were brought as one. It's 5AM and found myself crying because of this book 😭 I would highly recommend this book to my friends and to my future students. 😊 I've never had this feeling long time ago. I missed this type of pain xD Enjoy reading!❤️
101 reviews1 follower
July 25, 2022
I loved this book. I was hooked from the opening sentence. I loved the characters, the heart-wrenching disability and past of the main character, Kiva. I loved their search for identity and the beautiful art woven throughout the text.
Profile Image for The Reading Raccoon.
777 reviews106 followers
December 27, 2022
Read for Popsugar Reading Challenge: written by a Pacific Islander author

Sweet coming of age novel about a Samoan girl who falls in love with an American boy attending one of the reform schools on the island. Some of the dialogue was unrealistic but I enjoyed the storyline.
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