‘Scar of the Bamboo Leaf’ is Sieni A.M.’s second novel. It tells the story of two teenagers searching for love, acceptance, and purpose in life. The book is categorized Young Adult Fiction and set in contemporary Samoa.
Life hasn’t been easy for 15-year-old Kiva. Diagnosed as an infant with a leg length discrepancy and thus walking with a pronounced limp, she’s been forced to deal with insults and nasty remarks from other people. Finding serenity in arts, she often escapes to her private comfort zone with only a sketchbook, pencil, and an idea for her next drawing.
The girl’s life changes when her beloved uncle asks her to teach the misguided boys from a nearby Academy the art of siapo and dye making. One of the students is Ryler, a 17-year-old American full of rage and anger. His negative attitude draws Kiva’s attention. As she desperately wants to help Ry overcome his inner demons, an unlikely friendship is formed. A young girl starts to believe that her own secret wishes might someday come true. But tragic times are just around the corner and Kiva’s future may not be so bright…
This is one of the best books you will ever read. The truth is, I could finish my review with that one sentence, because no words can truly describe how amazing Sieni’s novel is. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 15, 28, 35 or 50 years old – this story will linger with you for much longer than just one day, one week, or even one month.
Sieni A.M. managed to create a set of extremely believable, authentic characters who are the absolute highlight of the book. Kiva is not an ‘ideal girl’ – her visible disability makes her an object of jokes. Yet, she tries to see the good in people. She dares to dream and hope for a better tomorrow. And, let me tell you, by no means is she a cripple. She is the strongest, the most incredible, the most beautiful young woman, who doesn’t allow her imperfections to clip her wings.
Then there is Ryler, a half-American half-Arab troubled kid with scars of his own. Unlike Kiva, he doesn’t believe, he doesn’t care. His turbulent past – so difficult to tame – casts a long shadow on his everyday existence. However, deep inside there is a ray of light; hidden love that simply needs to be awoken. When that finally happens, Ry’s heart is set on fire.
Although Kiva and Ryler are the protagonists in the novel, there is a group of supporting characters, each of whom is equally interesting and complex. They are exactly the kind of ‘people’ you want to have in a book, as they are the ones that carry the story.
Which brings us to the next point: the fantastically plotted narrative. It is full of surprises and twists and turns no one can see coming. You are not able to predict the next chapter, let alone the ending. This heart-warming tale is an ideally paced roller-coaster ride. It makes you laugh. And then it makes you cry. This is precisely how emotionally charged the novel is.
I could not recommend ‘Scar of the Bamboo Leaf’ more. This wrapped in the lush Samoan settings tale of love, acceptance, and forbearance is something you will want to come back to the minute you finish the last page. It is an exceptionally good book, extremely inspirational and thought-provoking. Poetically written with a subtle dose of humour, it should be read by every single person, young and old.