Tag archives for Burma
BOOK NAME: Elephant Run
AUTHOR: Roland Smith
Nick Freestone is a young teen living in a time when the world is at war. Due to the fact that the city he resides in, London, is being bombed by German bombers constantly, Nick’s mother decides to send him off to Burma where his father manages a teak plantation. Nick feels that he will be safe in Burma halfway around the world and is ready to learn about the world of mahouts (elephant handlers) and teak harvesting. At the plantation, he befriends Mya, a girl his age, and the legendary elephant monk Hilltop.
Everything seems to fare well for Nick until the day the Japanese invade the country. Japanese troops overrun the plantation and hold the villagers hostage. Nick’s father and several other plantation workers are sent off to a labor camp while the rest (including Nick) are held in captivity at the plantation. As Nick adapts to harsh life in the Japanese-occupied plantation, he is forced to play the role of servant and suffers from the abuse of Bukong, the plantation’s former chef who is a Burmese collaborator with the Japanese. Eventually, he and Mya cannot tolerate the Japanese occupation of the country any longer and secretly plan to escape the plantation and rescue their imprisoned family members with the assistance of Hilltop. The two know that escape is nearly impossible. Japanese soldiers control the entire countryside and the jungle wilderness is an inhospitable place. Despite the risk of capture and punishment, nothing will stop Nick and Mya as they embark on a dangerous journey to free themselves from the Japanese.
Elephant Run by Roland Smith is one of the best books he has ever written that is intended for younger audiences. The book combines history, cultural studies, and nature, and is a unique book with something for everyone. Elephant Run takes an in-depth look at Burma during WWII and tells the story of Nick’s experiences living in a wartime Japanese-occupied Burma. I appreciate the fact that Smith examines an uncommon, “backwater” front of the war that is not as studied as the other famous fronts of the Second World War. The story’s background settings will allow readers to know what life was like for the Burmese as they were subjugated and dominated by the Japanese including labor conditions and the dangers of disobeying the military authorities. Roland Smith’s book also takes a fascinating look at the culture and wildlife of Burma. He accurately describes the clothes that the Burmese wear (skirt-like clothing known as a Longyi), the diverse wildlife of the country, the inside of a traditional Burmese home, the trade of a mahout (elephant handler), and other aspects of Burma.
I especially enjoyed the plot, which was fraught with suspense, action, and memorable characters. I’m pretty sure that Elephant Run could be made into a film, because the action never seemed to cease for even a moment! Elephant Run is an excellent read for any historical fiction fans, and I’d give it a 9.5/10. This book is simply brilliant and creative, and will not fail to satisfy!