Mitali Perkins… The author of a well-known and almost classic novel called, Bamboo People. Honestly, I expected a bit more from this novel since it was so renown and “famous”. One could say that expectations didn’t meet reality for this novel… What is this? I’m on a sort of mediocre book streak right now. Ah well, next time the book will be better.
The cover art for this novel is actually quiet splendid and it’s fascinating how Mitali Perkins included a little world to the bottom left of her cover. The longer you stare at the cover the more you see. The cover gives a sort of introduction about what will happen and this includes the two boys on the front cover.
Let’s start with a little summary, Bamboo People is about two young boys, Chiko (Burmese teen) and Tu Reh (Karenni teen). Both of them meet and under their circumstances Tu Reh and Chiko stay together. At the time of writing there was a lot of conflict between the Burmese and the Karenni and the author wanted to portray this struggle from two totally different stand points. An enemy meets enemy book where your enemy might become your friend.
Something that I think Mitali Perkins did phenomenally well was showing why conflicts started arising between the Burmese and the Karenni. Culture differences, a little blackmail paired with conditioning people to think or act in a specific way before they can make their own choice. Mitali Perkins explores the reality of what can happen to children if their parents believe strongly in something. Children will be exposed to this and only this opinion so they’ll absorb it until they ‘form’ their own opinion which will most likely be what their parents think too.
(Spoiler Alert) When Tu Reh finds Chiko injured in the jungle he has a moment where he debates about whether or not he should leave Chiko to fend for himself. It shows the emotional side of Tu Reh and the struggle people have everyday living up to social norms, how hard it is to not comply to social norms. Although Tu Reh does end up bringing Chiko along with him back to the Karenni camp he’s looked down upon. No one wants anything to do with Tu Reh because he has ‘betrayed’ his people through rescuing ‘the enemy’. Not only does Tu Reh lose his village but he also loses his best friend in this process, he’s all alone and this is when he discovers how different his first perceptions of the Burmese were. This is because once Tu Reh starts talking to Chiko he finds out that Chiko was forced into the army, that he has a family at home who misses him and maybe even a girl.
One of the reasons why I didn’t really enjoy this book was because I wish it had gone more in depth about the mindsets of the Karenni villagers. I would’ve really enjoyed it if the novel elaborated a bit more on how Chiko slowly changed the minds of the villagers, instead of a sentence that reads a little like, after meeting Chiko the villagers saw how different he actually was. Don’t quote me on that quote because it’s most likely wrong but, that’s the gist of the sentences.
I would score this book a 5/10. I recommend this book if you want to read a classic and even though I didn’t enjoy that it wasn’t in depth, I do think that everyone should read it. It has some very interesting concepts about the mentality and psych of humans.
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- Dreamer (aka Juliet)