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by Jane Vejjajiva & translated by Jane Vejjajiva & Prudence Borthwick

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: June 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-4169-1788-8
Publisher: Atheneum

A first novel, translated from Thai by its author, beautifully evokes the rich and flower-filled landscape of Thailand, while it explores the deepest of themes: love, loss, family and death. Nine-year-old Kati lives with her grandparents, now retired, and fits comfortably into their bickering but affectionate rhythms. Her absent mother is not mentioned until midway through the story, when readers learn that she is dying of ALS. She had lived a full life as an attorney with many friends and family who loved her, but had put Kati in grave danger by not acknowledging the severity of her illness. As reparation, she vowed not to see Kati again but to leave her with her grandparents. Kati does get to spend the last days of her mother’s life with her, and is shown the trove of pictures, letters and memories her mother has carefully left for her. The mother also leaves a letter for Kati to contact her father, whom she has never known. The child’s decision, as she works her way through this tangle of vivid human emotion, forms the heart and climax of the tale. (Fiction. 9-12)