Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

I admit that sometimes I gripe and complain when things in life don’t go my way.  Then I read a book like Bamboo People (Charlesbridge 2010) by Mitali Perkins, and I realize how lucky I am.  Set against the backdrop of war in Burma, this powerful story brings together two boys who must make a choice about the kind of men they wish to be.

Chiko is more interested in books than politics, but after his father is arrested, he is desperate to find work to support himself and his mother.  He also wants to impress the girl next door in hopes she might return his affection.  When he goes to apply for a job, he is kidnapped and forced to join the Burmese army.  He becomes friends with a street boy, Tai, and together they try to survive the army long enough to return home.

Tu Reh feeds the anger in his heart against the Burmese soldiers who burned his Karenni village.  He is finally old enough to go out on patrol when his group comes across a group of dead and wounded Burmese soldiers.  Tu Reh is left with the choice of what to do with the wounded Chiko.  Should he kill him, leave him for wild animals, or bring him to the safety of the refugee camp.

Can these two boys from opposite worlds learn to see past their anger and find forgiveness?  Could you?

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