Minfong Ho is a Singaporean who grew up in Thailand and now makes her home in Ithaca, New York. She is also author of Rice Without Rain, The Clay Marble and Maples in the Mist. She also co-authored Sing to the Dawn, the musical based on the book.
The book in one sentence: A simple story about a simple girl living in rural Thailand fighting against the odds to study in the city.
Who would you recommend it to: Anyone looking for a quick but meaningful read.
OK bits: The protagonist Dawan and her brother Kwai.
Boring bits: The Buddhist monk who tries to discourage her from studying in the city with the reason that everything is temporary and will not last.
Verdict: I usually do not enjoy stories with an Asian setting very much. This is one of the few that I did. I love how Dawan is a strong female character that refuses to be discouraged by the people around her about the horrors of the city; yet, she is fully aware that it is not necessarily a better life she will lead when she gets there. This book was the winner of the S. E. A. Write Award 1996 and won 1st prize for the Council of Interracial Books for Children, New York (though I’m puzzled because there wasn’t any interracial content).