Saturday, December 7, 2019

Book Review: Finding Chika by Mitch Albom

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BOOK review
Started on: 17 November 2019
Finished on: 27 November 2019

Title: Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 256 pages / 208 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2019
Price: Rp 271,000 (https://www.periplus.com/)

Rating: 4/5

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"But none of us are assured of tomorrow. It's what we do with today that makes an impact."
Chika Jeune was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. After her mother died, Chika was brought to The Have Faith Haiti Orphanage that Mitch Albom operates in Port Au Prince. At age five, Chika is diagnosed with a chronic illness and the doctor said she might only have a few months left to live. Mitch Albom and his wife, Janine, brought her to America, hoping that she can get the best medication and treatment. With no children of their own, Mitch and Janine took Chika in as a permanent part of their household, and their attachments started to grow. Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they formed—a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made.

"Watching her on that optimistic search, and passing rooms where I glimpsed parents with their heads in their hands, I realized something important: Hope is critical. It is almost mandatory to soldier through troubled times. Conversely, there is no affliction like hopelessness. I believe it is worse than anything that strikes the flesh.
"The most precious thing you can give someone is your time, Chika, because you can never get it back. When you don't think about getting it back, you've given it in love.
I learned that from you."
It's been 10 years since I read Tuesdays with Morrie, and now Mitch Albom comes back with another memoir about someone very dear to his heart. I picked up this book with no expectation at all—I didn't even know if it's a fiction/non-fiction book at first, but I decided to read it solely because it's written by Mitch Albom. Both Tuesdays with Morrie and Finding Chika are memoirs of people who already passed away; but Morrie was 78 years old when he died, while Chika was only 7/8 years old when she finally lost her battle to cancer. It's always heartbreaking to hear/read stories about children who suffered chronic illness because they're just starting their lives and they had to suffer so much 😭. In this book, the writer shared the lessons he learned through his relationship with Chika; and I'm going to share some parts of this book that struck me in this review.
"But if prayer is supposed to bring peace, I could not always find it, Chika. I will admit that. I could not understand why a child had to suffer, why the Cologne clinic had so many kids needing help to walk or talk. This does not mean I lost my belief in God. But it was tested."
Before reading this book, I didn't know that Mitch Albom and his wife never had a child of their own. Mitch Albom met Chika when he came to help Haiti after a terrible earthquake. Mitch Albom operated an orphanage in Haiti, Have Faith Haiti Mission; and that's where Chika was brought to. Until one day, the director of the orphanage called and reported that there seems to be something wrong with Chika because her face is drooped and she doesn't walk right. Turns out, there's no one in Haiti that could help her and that's when Mitch Albom decided to bring Chika to America for medical treatment. Long story short, the doctor said that Chika had something called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG. Chika was 5 years old at that time, and the doctor said she only have around 4-5 months to live. Since then, Mitch Albom and his wife decided to take Chika in as if she's their own child—took care of her and tried all sorts of medication to tackle the disease that's eating her from the inside. It was a bittersweet moment between Mitch Albom, his wife—Janine, and Chika because they get to become a family, but short-lived. ☹️

Among the seven lessons that are shared in this book, the one lesson that struck me was the second one, called Time Changes. Ever since Chika came to live with them, Mitch's life completely changed. His old way of doing things was gone. Even though I haven't experienced having children of my own, I do understand that season comes and season goes. And in every changing season, our lives are changed as well—because we might have a different priority, changed our way of thinking, etc. Through it all, we need to choose what we spend our time on. Giving our time to someone or something is indeed the most precious thing we can give, because we can never get it back. It's a good reminder for me to be mindful of what I'm spending my time on.
"You had a pace. The disease had a pace. And from that point forward, all we knew about time would change, from the way we used to spedn it, to the way we cherished it."
"C.S. Lewis, the man who wrote the Narnia books you so loved, once said it is easy to trust a rope as long as you're using it to wrap a box. But when you're clinging to it over a deadly precipice, it's something else entirely. As your condition worsened, my clinging became more desperate."
There are plenty of other sweet and heartwarming moments in this book but I don't want to spoil everything here. Overall, I still enjoy Mitch Albom's writing as usual—even though personally I love Tuesdays with Morrie a lot more than this one. This book is about Mitch Albom's journey, how Chika came into his life, and the years that they get to spend together as a family. As I've said earlier, reading these kinds of stories is always heartbreaking; but at the same time, it also gives a certain kind of warmth to the soul.

by.stefaniesugia♥ .
 

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