Nov. 11-- The first book I ever read by Mitch Albom was "Tuesdays with Morrie," which spent four straight years at the top of the New York Times list and has since become the best-selling memoir of all time. A forever Albom fan, I could not wait to read his next work, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven." I was going through a challenging time, and friends questioned whether I should be reading this particular story before undergoing major surgery. Unbeknownst to all, this timeless book gave me peace of mind I never had felt before or since.
Now, more than 20 years after writing "Tuesdays with Morrie," Albom's newest memoir, "Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family" (Harper), is destined to become another epic best-seller.
In this latest awe-inspiring work, Albom returns to nonfiction for the first time in more than a decade with this heart-wrenching and heartwarming story of another person who would forever change his heart and his life: a 5-year-old orphan from Haiti. Chika who would become a permanent part of his and his wife Janine's story.
Told in retrospection and through enlightening conversations with Chika herself, this is pure Albom-poignant and vulnerable. "Finding Chika" is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they formed. It's a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made.
Chika Jeune was born three days before a terrible earthquake destroyed Haiti and spent her infancy in a devastated landscape. "It was a tragedy on an island where tragedy is no stranger," writes Albom.
After her mother died giving birth to a baby brother, Chika was brought to the Have Faith Haiti Orphanage. Brave and self-assured, filled with endless optimism, an amazing sense of humor and wisdom beyond her years, she melted the hearts of all who met her.
"Families are like pieces of art," Albom writes. "They can be made from many materials. Sometimes they are from birth, sometimes they are melded, sometimes they are merely time and circumstance mixing together, like eggs being scrambled in a Michigan kitchen."
Emotionally rich and deeply affecting, the scope of Albom's writing is breathtaking and a gut punch to the soul. You won't be able to put the book down until the very last page. This intimate portrait should be read by anyone who has ever been warmed by the smile of a child.
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