Finding Chika by Mitch Albom
Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9780751571936.
(Age: Older adolescents - Adult) Highly recommended. A dark mass on her brain - this is what the MRI showed, following the examination of little Chika by a neurologist, and there was no one in Haiti who could help her. Brought to America by author Mitch Albom, the operator of the orphanage in Haiti where he met Chika, the diagnosis was a brain tumour with the survival rate of zero. Albom and his wife Janine had to make to a decision - to take her back to Haiti to spend the last few months of her life . . . or to fight it. They decide to fight - because Chika has always been a fighter. She was born just before the Haitian earthquake of 2010, and brought to the orphanage at the age of three; they know her as a cheeky fun-loving child with an indomitable spirit.
The book becomes a love letter to the little girl who captured their hearts. Albom has written it as if he were talking to her still. With each chapter he describes the different ways she changed their lives; the laughter, the games, the hugs, and then sadly the farewell. Every reader will love Chika as the Alboms did, and no doubt every reader will also shed tears at the heart-breaking conclusion. At the age of seven, she had to give up the fight. But Chika lives on in the joy she brought to a family and the renewed discovery of love and caring for others.
This is a sad but beautiful story, and a reminder to us all to cherish the people in our lives, and to take time out to appreciate what life offers us. Themes: Love, Grief, Childhood cancer.