When 15 year-old Chiko answers the call for more teachers he finds himself abruptly press-ganged into the army by the Burmese government. Chiko has always been more of a scholar, always dreaming of becoming a teacher. Chiko is taken to a remote camp on the border by Thailand where he is trained to become a soldier. While there he becomes friends with Tai who was also “recruited” the same time he was. Tai is an orphan who lived on the streets with his sister. He has street smarts and Chiko has book smarts. They learn from each other and become close friends.
Tu Reh’s family was chased from their village and had to watch while it was burned by the Burmese soldiers. Tu Reh has vowed to get revenge in any way he can. The people of his village who survived have escaped to Thailand and now live in a new village hoping to be safe.
When Chiko is sent on a mission to find this village he finds himself face to face with Tu Reh. This meeting leaves Tu Reh with moral decisions to make that will test every ounce of who he really is. Will he follow the teachings he has been raised with by his great and powerful father or will he act on the anger that has been festering since the Burmese burned his village?
The first half of this book is narrated by Chiko and the second half by Tu Reh. Told in their differing perspectives, they both struggle with their prejudices of culture and class as they work through their own feelings and beliefs of the war.
Recommended by: Joleen Waltman, Librarian, Idaho USA