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Robert Abrams
Book Reviews
Wheelchair
Burma
Yangon, OTH (Burma)
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Bamboo People - a novel

by Robert Abrams
June 3, 2010
Yangon, OTH (Burma)
For more on Ms. Perkins, see the article on BookExpo America 2010.
I recently read Mitali Perkins' Bamboo People, a young adult novel. This is a story of two boys living in Burma under difficult conditions. At first glance, this is not a dance related novel. Bamboo People is not a dance related novel at tenth glance either. So why, you ask, are you reviewing it on ExploreDance.com? Because on page 260 (out of 264), dance becomes a central idea in the book, even if dance is not explored in depth.

Bamboo People is set in a time of war, and in war torn lands disabling injuries are all too common. One of the main characters, who lost a foot, thinks to himself, "Why didn't I run more with my feet when I had both of them? I should have sprinted, jumped, leaped, danced, skipped, bounded here and there like a rabbit. Now I limp slowly..."

The book shows that, even when confronted by other issues that seem far more serious on their face, dance matters. Dance is one of the reasons people long for wars to end.

Bamboo People is clearly written for young adults: there are a lot of short chapters, the language used is relatively accessible and the graphic violence is kept to a minimum. There is some violence, which is unavoidable given the setting in a war zone. What violence is present is artfully written.

Still, as an adult, I found Bamboo People to be an excellent read. The characters are interesting, and grow over the course of the book. The conflicts the characters face feel genuine. I avidly read the second half of the book in one sitting. I used to read that way a lot (science fiction, Tolstoy, etc.), but I haven't in a long while. Bamboo People reminded me of why I love to read.

In the sequel, the main characters should discover wheelchair/integrated dance, exceed the limitations of their prosthetic limbs, win the heart of the girl and bring peace to Burma. Okay, maybe that is not realistic - they should bring peace to all of Asia.

However Ms. Perkins decides to write her next novel, I am sure it will be a good read.



Bamboo People is published by:
Charlesbridge
www.charlesbridge.com
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