Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M (5 Stars)
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"Her heart wept when she realized that the hardest part about loving him was the idea that his love was never meant for her."
Walking with a pronounced limp all her life has never stopped fifteen-year-old Kiva Mau from doing what she loves. While most girls her age are playing sports and perfecting their traditional Samoan dance, Kiva finds serenity in her sketchbook and volunteering at the run-down art center her extended family owns.
When seventeen-year-old Ryler Cade steps into the art center for the first time, Kiva is drawn to the angry and misguided student sent from abroad to reform his violent ways. Scarred and tattooed, an unlikely friendship is formed when the gentle Kiva shows him kindness and beauty through art.
But after a tragic accident leaves Kiva severely disfigured, she struggles to see the beauty she has been brought up to believe. Just when she thinks she’s found her place, Ryler begins to pull away, leaving her heartbroken and confused. The patriarch of the family then takes a turn for the worse and Kiva is forced to give up her dreams to help with familial obligations, until an old family secret surfaces that makes her question everything.
Immersed in the world of traditional art and culture, this is the story of self-sacrifice and discovery, of acceptance and forbearance, of overcoming adversity and finding one’s purpose. Spanning years, it is a story about an intuitive girl and a misunderstood boy and love that becomes real when tested.
I never thought that this book would really touch me in any way because at first, it wasn’t the kind of book that I thought I would like. But it proved me wrong because its one of the most meaningful and touching books I’ve ever read.
I had to admit that at the start I was getting a little bored, it was all an introduction at first, but after the first quarter of the book, everything was getting better and much more interesting. I love the story, it was simple yet unique. Talking about two unique characters, Kiva and Ryler.
I’m gonna make this short and easy. As an artist, I appreciate how well Sieni showed how much art means to Kiva, it made me connect with her in a way. Because even I’m impulsive as she is when it comes to painting. Her impulsive need to sketch is very adoring in a way (it reminds me too much of what I feel when I paint). The setting was also well written. I could imagine the place very well, it can get a bit TMI sometimes, but not too much to make me notice a lot, and get distracted. Then the second would be the story itself. Could I say that it would be the usual kind of a rough boy meets artistic sweet girl? Eeeeeeh, not really. I mean, the story is basic, but the way that Sieni wrote it, she made it more meaningful and touching. Its low key but apt for the kind of characters that she made. The development of the story is… *speechless*
Then there’s the characters. :> I really really like the development that I saw from them, its not really a big development like (bad boy turns into good boy, kind of a thing). Its just that, I saw them become the greatest version of themselves. Kiva overcame this stigma of hers that she is a burden to her family. I love that she grew in a sense that she learned to accept herself and not think of herself as someone who could drag her family down. Ryler was, like a gently giant. He is hard in the outside but completely soft in the inside. I’m not usually attracted by guys like him, but he had this appeal and charm that you would want to know more about him. I love how he handled his feelings for Kiva as well. It was refreshing to see the things he did in order to be with Kiva. He pursued her in a different way compared to the usual romance that happens in other YA novels.
But despite all the light feel of this book. It held such significance because of the message Sieni wanted to say. Racism is something that I really don’t understand of even agree on, because it feels too much like stereotyping, which I am annoyed and angry most of the time with. Sieni delt well with this topic. She showed me another true, albeit harsh reality of what this kind of stereotype make people so blind and hurtful towards other races or even towards each other.
WHY DO I RECOMMEND IT?
The end was… okay I guess. I actually cried a bit because this book will just give you little pinpricks to the heart because its very very raw and emotional. Overall, this book was one of the most genuine and memorable books I’ve read this year. I think everyone should have the chance to get this book. Because I know, that in a way. This book would be able to touch other people’s/readers’ hearts as well.
Thank you Ms. Sieni for providing a copy! It was a real honor :D
* * *ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sieni A.M. is a coffee addict, Instagram enthusiast, world traveler, and avid reader turned writer. She graduated as an English and History high school teacher from the University of Canterbury and is currently living in Israel with her husband and two daughters.
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