This memoir has feels to last for eternity. Albom's books are always powerhouses but this one is on another level. Some of the life-changing lessons Albom learned in Tuesdays with Morrie resurface and change as he faces these new experiences with life and death.
Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mitch Albom's books squeeze hearts so slowly that the aching feels warm and devastating all at the same time. The mark of an amazing book is one that leaves you with a feeling so deep that you can't shake it for days after finishing. This book left me with a profound sadness that I couldn't stop coming back to, and yet I loved it despite how it ripped me up inside. This is one of those books that will roll around in my heart forever.
Albom and his wife, Janine, start an orphanage in Haiti and are eventually given the scary news that five-year-old Chika has a brain mass that can not be properly treated in her home country. They take her back to Michigan only to find out that the tumor is rare, and the diagnosis is terminal. Through it all, Chika captivates everyone with her bold personality, fighting spirit, and sweet nature. Although the Alboms did not have any children of their own, Chika immediately becomes their girl blessing them with cheer and wonder despite the dire circumstances. They create a family focused on the short seven years of blessings she brought to their lives. After Chika passes away, Mitch begins to see her again. She visits him at home, and they talk just as they did in life. As Mitch grieves, he also relives her joy. She urges "Mr. Mitch" to write her stories, and he celebrates her. His honesty on what it's like to have a dying child, a child with older parents, a non-biological child, an orphan child from poverty and trauma is all powerful and authentic.
While I read part of this in print and also listened to the audiobook, I highly recommend the audio. Albom includes clips of Chika's voice, and the raspy sweetness of her laughter and speech in between Albom's narration is magnetic, soothing, and bittersweet. Have a large box of tissues handy through this entire book, and be prepared for full-on sobbing. I will assume you have a heart of stone if you don't cry reading this.
View all my reviews
Travel All the Pages is inspired by my two loves - travel and reading, a combo I can't resist. Enjoy these little pairings.