by Jane Vejjajiva

Summary

School Library Journal:

Gr 3-6– Nine-year-old Kati lives an idyllic life with her grandparents in their ancestral home by a river in present-day Thailand. Grandma and Grandpa, though loving, are solemn and sad, carrying a secret burden hinted at in chapter subheadings: Kati’s mother left her with them years before. Suddenly the child is asked if she wants to see her, and she decides to go to the house by the sea where her mother, a corporate lawyer, is dying from ALS. Kati learns all about the disease from her mother’s friends Uncle Kunn and Aunt Da, who will stay with Pat until her death. Before that happens, Kati and Mother have the chance to renew their relationship; Kati learns the circumstances of her birth and early years. But all too soon Mother succumbs to her illness and, following her death, her cousin introduces Kati to many details of her mother’s life. She is then given another choice, whether or not to make contact with her father, and she cleverly resolves her conflict. The author uses vivid description to bring the setting and culture to life, and characters are well drawn. While issues of parental responsibility and death with dignity are central to the story, the focus remains on Kati and her responses to what is going on around her. Although there are occasional lapses in the narrative, and message and melodrama sometimes intrude, this is a solid story enhanced by a unique sense of place.–Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY –Marie Orlando (Reviewed June 1, 2006) (School Library Journal, vol 52, issue 6, p166)

Awards:

  • USBBY Outstanding International Books – Grades 6-8: 2007

Topics

3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Ages 9-12, Family, Loss