With authenticity, insight, and compassion, Mitali Perkins delivers another culturally rich coming-of-age novel, The Bamboo People. Chiko and Tu Reh are dynamic narrators whose adolescent angst and perspectives permeate the trauma of their daily lives. This novel takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Narrated by two teenagers on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma, The Bamboo People explores the nature of violence, power, and prejudice. Perkins gives readers a glimpse into what it means to be a hero. Readers will not return from this book without a new sense of the geopolitics of modern day Burma (Myanmar). War and…show more content… Chiko’s glasses and fondness for books make him an easy target in a hyper-aggressive military culture.
The first half of the book is a first person narrative from Chiko’s viewpoint. The first half of the novel is set at a Burmese army camp, for the training of the new soldiers. Coming to terms with his brutal separation from his family, Chiko begins to forge a manner of community with other young recruits. In particular, he builds a clever alliance and friendship with a street boy named Tai, an illiterate, fifteen-year-old orphan who lived on the streets of Yangon with his younger sister, Sawati. Tia is a skillful leader that is passionate and loyal to the group as a whole. Although he is illiterate, he has many skills that literate people would often wish for. The skills for endurance. The first section included many details about their progression. Chiko is learning to become stronger, physically and mentally because of Tai, likewise, Tai is learning to read and write; a rare commodity in this third world country, and becoming more intellectual than he already is. Both teach each other life skills they need in order to survive. “Mother always told me [Chiko] not to judge people by their appearance. She was certainly right in Tai’s case” (53). This statement that Chiko makes, further clarifies his respect for Tia. He saw him in a whole new level, rather than just a ragged, illiterate street boy (26). Chiko further states, “If you [Tia] teach me how to survive