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The Merit Birds
by Kelley Powell


Overview - 2015 Dewey Divas Pick
2016 Booklist Top Ten Multicultural Fiction List, Youth Spotlight

Cam is finally settling into his new life in Laos when tragedy strikes and he's wrongfully accused of murder.

Eighteen-year-old Cam Scott is angry.
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More About The Merit Birds by Kelley Powell
 
 
 
Overview
2015 Dewey Divas Pick
2016 Booklist Top Ten Multicultural Fiction List, Youth Spotlight

Cam is finally settling into his new life in Laos when tragedy strikes and he's wrongfully accused of murder.

Eighteen-year-old Cam Scott is angry. He's angry about his absent dad, he's angry about being angry, and he's angry that he has had to give up his Ottawa basketball team to follow his mom to her new job in Vientiane, Laos. However, Cam's anger begins to melt under the Southeast Asian sun as he finds friendship with his neighbour, Somchai, and gradually falls in love with Nok, who teaches him about building merit, or karma, by doing good deeds, such as purchasing caged "merit birds."

Tragedy strikes and Cam finds himself falsely accused of a crime. His freedom depends on a person he's never met. A person who knows that the only way to restore his merit is to confess. The Merit Birds blends action, suspense, and humour in a far-off land where things seem so different, yet deep down are so much the same.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781459729315
  • ISBN-10: 1459729315
  • Publisher: Dundurn Group
  • Publish Date: May 2015
  • Page Count: 240
  • Reading Level: Ages 14-18
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Fiction > People & Places - Asia
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Social Themes - Values & Virtues
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Social Themes - New Experience

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-04-27
  • Reviewer: Staff

First-time author Powell traces a Canadian teenager's reluctant trip to Laos, alternating among his perspective and those of two Laotian teenagers. With a bad temper and worse attitude, Cam sulks amid the unfamiliar customs of the village he and his mother will be calling home for his senior year. His attitude softens as he gets to know a smart, kind girl named Nok, a practitioner of traditional fa ngum massage. Nok and her older brother, Seng, have been scraping by ever since their parents were taken away for political re-education and their older sister left for North America. The novel's initially low stakes spike after a series of events lands Cam in prison, facing manslaughter charges. There are some pacing and plotting oddities (within 30 pages, all three POV characters are knocked unconscious in separate incidents), and the more sensitive moments in Cam's narration can sound out-of-character ("In a culture as fluid and open-hearted as this, anything was possible"). Even so, the story offers an insightful window in Laotian life, history, and traditions while reminding readers that redemption can carry a heavy cost. Ages 12–15. (May)

 
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