Happy Monday, Savvy Readers! Even though were facing the first blizzard of the year here in Ontario (it’s still technically fall, right?), we have been super excited for this particular Monday because we have a very, very special 50 Book Pledge Featured Read in store for you today.
Over a decade ago, Mitch Albom, perhaps best known for The Five People You Meet in Heaven, published a little known book called Tuesdays With Morrie. And by “little known” I mean one of the bestselling, most widely-read non-fiction books of the last, say, 20 years or so. Filled with timeless wisdom and brilliant insights, Tuesdays with Morrie is on par with books like The Last Lecture, When Breath Becomes Air, and Being Mortal. Since then, however, Mitch Albom has chosen to work exclusively in the field of fiction, churning out bestselling novel after bestselling novel. Seriously, everything he touches is gold.
Luckily for us readers, though, Mitch Albom has decided to return to the non-fiction universe, and this new book has the makings of a second Tuesdays with Morrie. With all the same emotion, power, and heart that made that book such a smashing success, Finding Chika is a poignant memoir that celebrates Chika, a young Haitian orphan whose short life would forever change his heart. Just a super quick warning here, though. Much of Chika’s story is devastating and deals with death and extreme poverty, so please keep that in mind before reading further. Additionally, because of the incredible seriousness of this story, we’re going to pass on using gifs throughout this review in respect for this incredible little girl’s life.
Chika was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. After her mother died while giving birth to her baby brother, Chika grew up in extreme poverty before being brought to the Have Faith Haiti Orphanage, which Mitch Albom and his wife operate in Port Au Prince. With no children of their own, the forty-plus children who call the orphanage their home have become a family to Mitch and his wife. Shortly after her arrival at the orphanage, Chika catches Mitch’s eye in the most adorable way possible. We don’t want to spoil it, obviously, but we can assure you that it will melt your heart. Unfortunately, at the tender age of 5, the unexpected happens. Brave, self-assured, happy Chika is suddenly diagnosed with an inoperable tumor. The doctors tell Mitch and his wife that there is no way that Chika can get the help she needs in Haiti.
Instead of giving up hope, they bring Chika to their family home in Detroit, confident that the American medical system will be able to cure Chika of her ailment and get her back to her homeland. Instead, Chika muscles her way into their hearts and quickly becomes a permanent fixture in their household as they embark on an around-the-world journey to find a cure. All the while, Chika’s limitless supply of joy and humour teach Mitch the joys of caring for a child, eventually coming to learn that a relationship built on love, no matter what blows it takes, can never truly be lost.
Told in hindsight after the death of Chika, Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they formed. Featuring illuminating conversations between Mitch and Chika herself and an incredibly moving life, Finding Chika is a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it comes to be made.
Though the above description makes Finding Chika out to be a devastating read – which, of course, it is in parts – I cannot stress enough just how optimistic this book is. Finding Chika is one of those very, very rare books that will make you cry both tears of sadness and happiness while making you laugh in between new kleenexes. No words that I have can ever describe the emotional power of this book, but if you need any more convincing, here is Mitch Albom himself talking about what his new book means to him and just how special Chika truly was.
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