Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

Genre:  Realistic Fiction
# of Pages:  270

RAC Book:  Yes

Chiko and Tu Reh live very different lives in modern day Burma, but are forced to make tough decisions through circumstances beyond their control.  Chiko has always been raised to study and read and therefore does not have the strength or skills to fight in an army. He is forced to be a soldier by his government anyway, however.  He must learn quickly what it takes to survive in a far off camp away from everyone and everything he has ever known.  Tu Reh remembers when the Burmese soldiers burned down his family’s home and left their village in despair.  He is surprised when his father chooses to show an injured soldier mercy and must come to grips with the decision he ultimately decides to make.  Can either boy survive to reach adulthood in this war torn country?  Will they ever find the strength to make those tough decisions?

This book will feel like a historical fiction book to many students because it can be hard to believe that teenagers their age really live this way in the modern world.  That is why it is important for any student reading this book to know that this is what modern day Burma is like.  Teenagers are struggling to feed and protect their families and have had to change their ultimate goals in life accordingly.  These two characters accurately portray the different cultures that are currently at war in Burma and how young people are in a fight they do not understand.  Their motivations, frustrations, and individual feelings are truly illustrated for the reader and will leave the reader with a better understanding of what it is like to be a teenager in Burma at this time.  Recommended for class or individual reading assignments.  Teachers are encouraged to discuss Burma in some detail with any student who reads this so that he or she can properly understand the accuracy of the depiction.

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