Top Semi finalist, 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Kindle Edition: Published April 12th 2013
This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time!
When it was finished my first thought after reading "The End"was: "what an unbelievably, incredible, amazing story!"
Jando, a twelve-year-old child is the narrator, lying in a 'spider-hole' introducing himself as a boy-soldier - those kids "too tough to be real children, too young to be real men".
The riveting, evocative tale starts with his innocent life on his father's sugar plantation, introducing his family:
Mang Miguel Flores, his dad; Sampaguita Inday - his mom; Tanaya - his adopted little sister, with her pet pig Rosa; Monching - his missing brother; His uncle - Tio Mario: "He was a boulder no one could budge, someone one could hide behind. Today showed me that he was only human "Oso was a member of the Peasants Union and was as disagreeable as a swollen canker sore."
Jando is still discovering the world around him, describing his life from every angle: the smells of the forests and plantations, his mom's masterful cooking of traditional foods; the colors of the insects, animals, mountains, flowers, clouds; the detail of the community's dresses, believes, habits, history and languages. We are taken into the lives of decent, hardworking people living an uncomplicated life.
And abruptly his life changed when he also was confronted with the ugliness of revolution, war, politics and greed in which his family's - as well as those of many people around them's lives would forever change.
"Bad wind never blows alone, so goes the Filipino saying.
But I wasn't listening. I wanted to be alone. I was mad. Mad at Mama and Papa for delaying me, mad at Father Rufino for leaving me, mad at Tio Mario for interrupting me, mad at Leilani for cheating on Oso, mad at Oso for being a fool, mad at Tato for getting himself killed, and mad at everything else. I punched the air with my fist. It was a stupid world with stupid people living in it.
The author blended love, family, hardships, war, and unbelievable violence into a poetic tale of hope and determination.
The story is fast moving, exact, riveting. "The sun rose and fell and the days peeled away like the pages of a calendar."
Every page would shock, mesmerize, and grip the reader as a silent witness to this remarkable historical accurate, yet fictitious tale.
The reader is left breathless at the end, yet also grateful for a young boy's integrity, compassion and love for his country and his people and the price he was willing to pay to honor the people he loved and to keep his promises.
"The memories still haunt us, but they are faded now, like the pages of an old manuscript left out in the sun."
I recommend this brilliant,compassionately-written book to anyone enjoying Khaled Hosseini, Amy Tan, Abraham Verghese, Tan Twang Eng.