So in honor of today’s celebration, here’s a list of books featuring characters who are TCKs like the students who have filled our hallways for 25 years, or feature characters or plot points our students would readily identify with.
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
Say tells the story of his grandfather, who left Japan and travelled the United States. His grandfather was so enthralled with the country he returned to live in California after getting married in Japan. But after a while, his grandfather longed for Japan and returned where eventually his grandson was born to whom he passed on his wanderlust.
- TCKs/Immigrant/Travelers: A fantastically illustrated story of how travelers, immigrants, and third culture kids can never quite feel 100% at home. A superb choice for kids (or adults) who may wonder where home is or in which culture they belong.
Here I Am by Patti Kim, ill. by Sonia Sanchez
A little boy moves from far away to New York City. At first the signs are in gibberish, the new place is confusing and scary. The boy treasures a seed he brought from his homeland that holds good memories. When he accidentally drops it one day out the window and a girl picks it up as she plays, he must venture outside and face the scary land to recover his treasure. But in the process, he discovers maybe his new home isn't all that bad.
- Wordless Book Fans: This story is wordless. And due to the art style, you do need to pay close attention to figure out what is going on. (Ok, so you can also cheat, and read Kim's note in the back of the book first. It explains the story and also her own immigration story that inspired this tale. Definitely read it sometime, whether before or after.)
- Immigrants/TCKs: A good book to help understand the challenges immigrants face. And it could be therapeutic for those who've just moved from a different place too.
- Compare/Contrast Fans: Read this and The Arrival by Tan (see below). Both are wordless and are about moving to a new culture, but the styles are very different.
Lately Lily: the Adventures of a Travelling Girl by Micah Player
Lily's parents travel all over the world for work, so she gets to travel too. She shares her tips of how to enjoy new places and keep old friends.
- Travelers/TCKs: A simple book about how to be a cheerful explorer of new places. This one will likely especially appeal to our international school students who travel a lot and have many friends in various countries.
Migrant by Maxine Trottier, ill. by Isabelle Arsenault
A little girl who is part of a family of migrant workers tries to explain how she feels about her life through a series of metaphors comparing herself to animals that migrate.
- Culture Studiers: Definitely read the author's note in the back of this. I'd never heard of the group of Canadian Mennonites who have a home base in Mexico but work as migrant farm laborers all over the US and Canada during the summers and speak Low German. It's a great introduction to a little known culture as well as building empathy for a group of people often misunderstood and/or looked down upon.
- Metaphor Learners/Lovers: The language used is quite poetic and would be fantastic for any classes learning about metaphors.
- TCKs/Kids of Mirgrant Workers: Many third culture kids will spend the school year in one country and summer or Christmas break in their passport country. They should identify and “get” this girl, especially living in different places during different seasons. And of course, other children of migrant workers will "get" this girl too.
Milo and Georgie by Bree Galbraith, ill. by Josée Bisaillon
Milo and Georgie’s mother gets a great new job and announces that with the new job comes a move. Milo is crushed. After one last baseball game at his old neighborhood he proclaims he’ll never be happy again, and once they move he refuses to go outside. His little sister Georgie can’t stand to be cooped up like Milo, so Milo ties a string to her and tells her to come home as soon as the string is tugged twice. Georgie comes home with wonderful tales of her adventures in the new city and something about gelato. Milo refuses to budge. But when Georgie’s string responds to his tug by coming back with no Georgie, Milo must venture out into his horrid new neighborhood. And things will never be the same.
- TCK Kids Grieving a Move/Any Kid Going through a Tough Move/Great Sibling Story Fans: Awww, what a sweet story. Milo may sound like a stubborn grouch, but anyone who has moved away from a place they loved will understand he’s just grieving. And he couldn’t have found a better neighborhood to grieve in or a sister to grieve with. I love that his sister gives him his space and lets him come out on his own time, even though she knows the new neighborhood is lots of fun. But even more, I love that once Milo does make it out (thanks to Georgie’s forays in the neighborhood and big heart), Milo finds numerous people eager to help him find his sister, welcome him into their lives, and make him feel that maybe you can love a new place while still missing an old one. A great story for any kid facing a move or still dealing with a past one. Also just a great story about how to be a good neighbor to new kids in your area. Many of our students face really hard moves not just in a new neighborhood but often in a new country. Milo’s story may be the voice of understanding and hope they need in those times of difficult transition.
Pirates vs. Cowboys by Aaron Reynolds, ill. by David Barneda
When the pirates stroll into town and come head-to-head with the local rowdy cowboys, there's an inevitable catastrophe of miscommunication. It looks like the town's about to witness an epic showdown, that is until Pegleg Highnoon, fluent in both cowboy and pirate, sidles in to save the day.
- TCKs/Anyone Who Deals with Multiple Cultures: One of the inevitable things about living overseas is seeing and experiencing clashes of cultures. This is such a great book to use when talking about those clashes of cultures and misunderstandings, and how to work things out well.
- Career Book Fans: This is also a good book to introduce the importance of having people whose occupation is interpreter or peacemakers. Neither is an easy job, but so very important! One of the perks of being a TCK is that most come out of their experiences perfectly suited to see both sides of a misunderstanding thanks to their global perspective, and frequently they also have the skills to communicate in multiple languages. They can become these peacemakers.
Steve, Raised by Wolves by Jared Chapman
Steve has been raised by wolves. It's his first day of school, but Steve is having trouble adjusting. Can Steve figure out how to be himself in a way that doesn't disrupt the rest of the students?
Note on content: A little bathroom humor. Being raised by wolves Steve has to relearn where to go to the bathroom.
- Humor Fans: This made me laugh out loud at several points. Steve’s antics are something else.
- TCKs: Beyond the fun, the book has a great message about finding out how to fit in with a new culture without totally abandoning who you are. This is a tough balance to navigate, as Steve demonstrates with his humorous failures. But Steve also demonstrates that there is hope. The balance can be worked out.
Middle Grade Fiction
Bloomability by Sharon Creech
This book is about an American girl whose aunt and uncle take her to live with them in Switzerland, where they work, and her experiences at the international school there.
- TCKs: Sharon Creech taught in an international school setting as well before she went into full time writing. She knows TCKs well. Dinnie's emotions and reactions are realistic and typical of many TCKs. There are many multicultural books out there, but there are very few about the unique life in an international school setting, it's trials and joys.
- Contemporary Fiction Fans: A unique pick for contemporary fiction fans.
Framed! (Framed!, #1) by James Ponti
Florian Bates is moving yet again. Which means he'll probably just freak out all potential friends again with his Theory of All Small Things at his new school. But when he meets the neighbor girl Margaret who will be in his class, T.O.A.S.T. doesn't freak her out with its uncanny observations about her. Margaret gets excited and wants to learn. For the first time in many years and several countries, Florian has a friend. While teaching Margaret T.O.A.S.T. at the museum where his mom works and his father is consulting, Florian notices that a man they observed a few days ago has reappeared with a new look. In fact, it appears he's in costume. But why? When several paintings get stolen just days later, Florian ends up helping solve the case and is recruited by the FBI. But is the case completely solved, and if it is, why are Romanian crime bosses following him?
- TCKs: Florian Bates has spent all his previous years in international schools and this is his first year living in his passport country, the USA. So Florian is 100% going through typical TCK emotions upon returning to his passport country, but he handles the change well. He’s a very fun TCK to follow around.
- Mystery Fans/Reluctant Readers: This is a fun, smart mystery that challenges readers to see if they can spot all the small clues Florian does before he reveals them. It's a book that's hard to put down and will keep you on your toes. Highly recommended for any arm chair sleuths out there.
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
Manjiro was fourteen when he set out with four friends on a fishing trip that went epically bad. They were swept away from the shores of Japan in a storm and shipwrecked on a deserted rocky island. Eventually an American whaling vessel spotted and rescued them. Japan had strict isolationist laws at this time, and Manjiro and his friends knew they'd never be allowed to return home. The captain of the whaling ship was kind and fair, and gave the refugees safe passage to Hawaii. During the trip, Manjiro picked up enough English to communicate and was dubbed John Mung by the crew. He quickly took to sailing and was spellbound by all the things there were to learn and see in the world. When his friends stayed on Oahu, Manjiro decided to continue sailing. He was taken in by the captain as a son, and when they returned to America, welcome into the captain's home. There Manjiro went to school and learned a trade, eventually setting out to sea again and reuniting with his old friends. They decided to venture back to Japan and take a chance. Their return was anything but easy; but it was providentially timed for Manjiro proved very important in helping Japan and America understand each other when Admiral Perry steamed into Japan.
- Historical Fiction/Sea Story Fans: This is technically fictional because Preus imagines dialogue and invents some minor characters for this tale, but the broader tale is factual. It's a crazy story that if someone dreamed it up we'd probably say is too far-fetched to be believable. But it is true. There really was a kid named Manjiro who was shipwrecked, joined an American whaler, learned in America and returned to Japan just in time to help the two countries better understand each other when Perry arrived. In fact, he might have been the only one in the world who could have. No American had been to Japan for 250 years. Manjiro is thought to be the first Japanese person to set foot in America (Hawaii wasn't America yet). His story is truly amazing and Preus does a fantastic job of imagining the details of it in this.
- Overcoming Prejudice Story Fans: Manjiro must overcome a lot of prejudices he has been taught about Americans, and in turn must face others prejudiced against him. Both sides have people who demonstrate how to beat the prejudice and love others for who they are.
- Fiction/Nonfiction Pairing Fans: Read this along with the nonfiction account of Manjiro’s life in Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy by Rhoda Blumberg. Preus does a great job of staying true to the facts, but the nonfiction provides more factual details and additional primary resources (Preus' book is illustrated with some, but Blumberg's has more).
- TCKs: Manjiro must wrestle a lot with where he belongs as he straddles two cultures. TCKs will identify with this TCK from almost 200 years ago.
Young Adult Fiction
All Fall Down (Embassy Row, #1) by Ally Carter
Grace is back on Embassy Row in the tiny ancient country of Adria. And she's not happy to be there. But she can't go to military school with her older brother, and she can't go into a war zone with her dad, her mom is dead, so that leaves her grandpa, the ambassador. Ever since her mom died, Grace has been struggling to find people she can trust. No one believes that her mom was murdered by a man with a scar on his face, and that she saw it. They keep telling her it was an accident, and her mom died in the fire. But Grace knows what she saw. Of course, the doctors and her family think she's on thin mental ice, and are super worried about her. Grace doesn't want the crazy label to follow her to Adria, but it seems impossible not to. Especially when she sees the man who murdered her mom walking around Adria. Some of the other kids from Embassy Row offer to help her on her quest to prove she isn't crazy and stop him before he kills again, but they may be tangled up in a crazier mess than they ever dreamed.
Note: Some violence.
- Thriller & Mystery Fans/Fans of Books with a Twist: Ok, so this book ends with a twist, that I'm not even going to hint at, except to say it wasn't the twist I expected. It definitely kept me reading, and it is super popular with readers at our school.
- TCKs: I really liked the Embassy Row characters and setting. It's a peek into a unique international setting (pretty much all of the characters are embassy kids, are TCKs, and go to the same international school). As far as I know, this is only the 2nd fictional book I’ve read that features kids going to an international school. And I felt like Carter portrayed them authentically.
Arabella of Mars (Adventures of Arabella Ashby, #1) by David D. Levine
After one scrape too many, Arabella is whisked away from the Mars she knows and loves by her mother to be "civilized" in England. Arabella is heartbroken, even more so when an express from Mars informs them that her father unexpectedly has died. Arabella adored her father, it is from him that she's inherited a deep fascination with the workings of automatons. When Arabella finds out that a bitter impoverished cousin has decided that now would be the perfect time to get himself a part of the inheritance and has set off for Mars with ill intent towards her brother, she must scramble to beat him to Mars somehow. Through a series of events, Arabella finds herself bound for Mars, disguised as a boy, hired by Captain Singh of the Mars Company aboard the ship Diana to be the captain's boy. Can Arabella quickly learn the ropes of interplanetary sailing, keep her true identity a secret, avoid catastrophe on the journey and make it to Mars in time to save her brother?
- Sea Story/Regency Fiction/Science Fiction Fans/Steampunk Fans: This was a fun seafaring adventure...complete with cannon battles, mutinous crew, and navigational challenges in almost zero gravity. Levine has reimagined the Regency era with Mars as England's gold mine in trade instead of the Americas in the early 1800s. Newton was inspired not by an apple falling but a soap bubble rising. Space is reimagined to be mostly breathable blue skies with wind currents. The French are still bitter enemies and they also ply the skies in sailing ships, so the crew of the Diana is always on the lookout for privateers and pirates.
- TCKs: Besides the intriguing setting, Arabella is largely what makes this such a great read. She's a plucky, hard working, smart heroine who also knows when to ask for help. I really appreciated that Arabella is pretty blind to race and species having grown up on Mars and taught to respect everyone regardless of where they came from or how they look. (The fact that the ship's captain is of Indian heritage irks some of the sailors, but not Arabella.) I also liked that because of her upbringing, she saves the day not only through her knowledge of automatons (the navigator on the ship is one) but also her knowledge of different cultures. In other words, her third culture kid qualities that made her such an oddball to many come in handy for saving the day, making this a great read for all those TCKs out there.
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
At first Black Dove and White Raven were a pair of women flyers who did stunt flying at air shows. Delia was Black Dove and Rhoda was White Raven. Both were American but had met in France where they also learned to fly and had children with foreign flyer husbands. Delia’s husband was from Ethiopia, and died on duty not long after Delia and Rhoda had gone to America to do air shows together. Rhoda’s husband is Italian, and his duties take him all over the place. So Delia and Rhoda raise their kids, Teo and Emilia, together and take them all over on tour. And when Delia dies in an accident, Rhoda takes in Teo as her own. Eventually, Rhoda decides to fulfill Delia’s dream of going to Ethiopia with the kids. She gets a job flying around Dr. Ezra for clinics and takes photographs to sell to magazines. Though Africa is their third home continent in their short lives, Teo and Em seem most at home there. They learn the local language from Dr. Ezra’s wife, Sinidu, get lessons with another expat family, and help around the village as they can. And in their free time make up stories about their fictional characters, Black Dove and White Raven who have all sorts of adventures. But their idyllic life starts to become threatened by rumblings between the Ethiopians and neighboring colonists, the Italians. Only because of this, Momma starts teaching both teens to fly, a skill they’ve dreamed of since their earliest memories. As war becomes more and more eminent, the family will have to figure out what to do, stuck as they are in a tricky position with ties to both sides.
Notes: Some language and some battle violence.
- Ethiopia Fans/Pre-WWII Fans: I was fascinated by the unique setting. I’ve never read anything set in Ethiopia, let alone Ethiopia in the 1930s, and Wein made the time period, landscape, and culture vividly come to life (and I appreciate her notes in the back clarifying what historical things were real and which she tweaked). It was fascinating, and I feel like I learned so much about Ethiopian history and culture. And the way that Wein constructed her characters so they have ties to multiple sides of a conflict is so interesting, difficult, but really makes the reader that much more invested in the climax and outcome of the story. It really helps readers explore multiple viewpoints of the conflict.
- TCKs: Teo and Em are wonderful TCK characters. They deal with all the very real issues of TCKs, such as trying to figure out where home is or desiring to just blend in, but they also love and respect the culture they live amongst. They learn the language, adapt to the cultural mores of Tazma Meda, give up shoes, while still acknowledging Ethiopia’s imperfections (and their own cultures'), but do so in respectable ways. They’re very graceful and honorable expats. (Elizabeth Wein was a TCK herself, and it shows.)
Ryan Quinn and the Rebel’s Escape (Ryan Quinn, #1) by Ron McGee
Ryan Quinn knows he isn't normal. He's lived all over the world thanks to his parents international work. But he's a very good chameleon, and he's hoping to fit in as normal as possible at his new school in New York. His parents have promised to make this a more permanent location too. But when his mother is kidnapped and the kidnappers are demanding his dad trade some person named Myat Kaw, Ryan quickly discovers that his parents international work was never what he thought. His father hasn't responded in days, so when a lady named Tasha shows up saying she's going after Mr. Quinn, Ryan decides to tag along. Even if Tasha thinks he's a liability. It turns out Ryan's parents have been unknowingly training him for years for this kind of work. But even with all his international experience and spy skills, it will take a miracle for him to find his dad and save his mom in time.
Note: Some violence.
- TCKs: I started reading this and was floored by how the students at my school are going to crack this cover and think this was written just for them. Our school is the International Community School of Bangkok, which we call ICS. Ryan goes to the International Community School of New York, which he calls ICS. Ryan is a third culture kid, just like the students here. They will totally get him. And then Ryan hops on a plane headed for Southeast Asia to save his dad. Granted, Ryan spends most of his time in a made up country (that is located in Burma/Myanmar's spot and bears some similarity to it in political structure but also somewhat fictional). Regardless, this book seems written just for the TCKs here.
- Thriller/Spy Fans: Ryan has a high octane exciting adventure and manages to mostly save the day, which is perfect for readers who need a lot of action in their pages.
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
Christopher Banks grew up in China after the Boxer Rebellion and before the world wars. He lived in Shanghai's international quarter with his parents. His father was an important man in a British trading company, his mother decided to invest her time in fighting the opium trade...even though that was part of her husband's company's business. Christopher's best friend was a little Japanese neighbor boy named Akira. The two would play all sorts of make believe games together, but after Christopher's father disappeared one day when they were around 10 or 11 the two turned their imaginations to being detectives. This was a pivotal moment in Christopher's life, for it is what he went on to do for an occupation. After his father disappeared his mother too disappeared a few weeks later; neither was found though Shanghai's top detective was put on the case. Christopher was sent back to England to stay with an aunt and eventually after completing his schooling started to make a name for himself by solving some key cases. The biggest case to cross his path still haunted him though, and eventually, despite rumblings of war on the horizon in the 1930s he sets off to return to Shanghai and try to track down his parents. Before he leaves his life intersects with two other orphans who become important to him. One is a socialite woman named Sarah, the other is a young girl he takes in as his ward. All three learn things from each other as they muddle through normal life and as Christopher searches for his parents in a Shanghai being threatened by the Japanese.
Note: War time violence.
- Artfully Structured Story Fans: Though my summary is roughly chronological, Ishiguro does not spin out his telling the same way. He takes us back and forth in time, but manages to never leave readers with whiplash. This also helps to slowly reveal some important things about Christopher as the narrator. He's not entirely reliable. But he's not unreliable either. It's a very interesting book. At times it was heart-wrenching and other times I wanted to help Christopher see sense, it wasn't a necessarily happy or feel good novel but definitely very interesting and well-written and I do feel like it was an true-to-life portrayal of someone dealing with a major childhood trauma they've put off dealing with. Well worth the read.
- Historical Fiction Fans/Classic Mystery Fans/TCKs: This book feels much like a classic detective story, but throws in the unique third culture kid flashbacks.
Middle Grade & Young Adult Graphic Novels
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
A man leaves his daughter and wife to find a place for them in a new land. The new country has strange words, strange food and is horribly confusing and daunting for the man. But eventually he starts to find some work, make friends, and figure out what some words mean and what foods to eat. And one glorious day his daughter and wife are finally able to join him.
- Wordless Book Fans: Tan manages to tell his story without one single word, and he does so fabulously.
- Immigrants/Refugees/TCKs: This beautifully illustrates the plights of an immigrant or expat coming to a strange new country without a single word of the local language. I think it is even more powerful in that the land the man comes to is strange and alien to anyone on Earth. It is a fantasy world, the language is nonsense, the food is bizarre, and the transportation methods are incredible. So readers at first will likely be just as confused as the man, but there are enough clues to help them figure out what is going on. Immigrants, refugees, and TCKs will all identify with the man entering a strange new world.
- Compare/Contrast Fans: As mentioned above, this book and Here I Am make a great compare/contrast pair.
Hilda and the Bird Parade (Hilda, #3) by Luke Pearson
Hilda and her mother are struggling to settle into their new home in the city. Hilda wants to go out and explore all day like she used to, but her mother is worried about her going off in the city alone. Some kids come along and invite her to play, solving part of the problem. But Hilda isn't sure she likes these kids' ideas of fun. She decides to take a stand when the kids hurt a bird. The bird doesn't remember who he is or how to fly, so Hilda tries to take him home but soon realizes she is lost and will never make it home in time to join her mom for the Bird Parade viewing. But her bird friend soon remembers who he is helps Hilda out.
- TCKs/Kids Who Have Moved/Standing Up for What’s Right/Understanding Parents Story Fans: This is a cute tale about adjusting to a new home, not being afraid of taking a stand against peers, and learning why parents make some of the rules they make.
No Normal (Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1) G. Willow Wilson, ill. by Adrian Alphona
Kamala doesn't quite fit in at home with her Pakistani Muslim immigrant parents, and she doesn't quite fit in at school with other teens born in Jersey City. While trying to figure out who she is, Kamala accidentally gets turned in to a superhero. Which is one part awesome (as she is a huge Marvel fan) but several parts something-worth-freaking-out-about primarily because she has no one to talk to or consult about her new powers. One thing she does know, though, based on her beliefs and who she is, she can't just not use her powers to help save lives. Eventually, one of her best friends does figure out the whole superhero thing and she is ecstatic to have an ally. On the other hand, her name as Ms Marvel starts to get around and she inadvertently also gets herself an enemy...to be dealt with in future issues.
- TCKs: Throughout her series, Kamala juggles not feeling like she belongs in any culture she’s technically a part of. She doesn’t feel quite all Pakistani, she doesn’t quite feel all American, and she doesn’t even feel quite all Marvel superhero. She wrestles throughout the series with her identity in ways that real TCKs will totally resonate with, and eventually comes to a place of peace about being her own unique blend of cultures.
- Safe Superhero Fans: I like Ms Marvel for a number of reasons. One is her TCK-ness, another is that she values decency and has one of the most decent and non-clingy superhero outfits. She’s also just a likable character with a good sense of humor and she wrestles with normal teen challenges in intelligent and wise ways along with the responsibilities of her superhero status. She’s a good role model in a lot of ways.
Young Adult & Adult Autobiographies
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: a Memoir by Margarita Engle
In free verse poems, Margarita Engle tells of her childhood from her parents falling in love, her birth and on through age fourteen. The book covers 1947-1965, and since Margarita's mother was Cuban and father American, she had a unique perspective of the Cold War events that happened during her childhood. She tells of the family's yearly visits to family in Cuba until the civil war and politics prevent those. Margarita shares her love for the life in Cuba, how the part of her that loved plants and animals felt most at home there, and how confused she felt by the events that prevented her from visiting an island she loved. There's an afterward giving an overview of Cold War events and what happened in Margarita's life since age 14.
- TCKs: Margarita beautifully captures the identity crisis of children caught between cultures. Third and fourth culture kids will readily identify with how she tried to figure out where she was most at home.
- Cuban Missile Crisis/Cold War Interests: It is extremely interesting to see the Cuban Missile Crisis and other Cold War events through the eyes of a child who loved both Cuba and America. It was also very interesting that her paternal grandparents were refugees from Ukraine and how she compares her grandparents' reactions to the events that drive them from their homes.
- Autobiographies/Novels in Verse Fans: Free verse biographies are spare on words, but that didn't prevent Engle from fully communicating her highs and lows of childhood and the things she fell in love with that led to future jobs. (I had no idea she was the first woman agronomy professor at a California polytechnic university before turning to writing! But it makes sense after you read this. Her love of nature flows through every poem.) It is a beautifully written autobiography important both for children in similar positions and for the unique perspective on historical events.
The Gift of Pain by Dr. Paul Brand with Philip Yancey
Dr. Paul Brand grew up in India and England, the son of British Christian missionaries to the mountainous region of India. He was sent to England for schooling, and then he went on to university eventually ending up in the medical field. He finished up his program with the military as WWII hit England, and eventually made his way back to India where he and his wife practiced medicine. Originally a hand surgeon, Brand found himself more and more working with lepers in India and went on to make some revolutionary discoveries about the disease and how to help people live without sensation in their extremities. For decades it was thought that the lost fingers, toes, and noses were just a part of the disease, but Brand discovered all these losses were due to lack of pain receptors. He became a world-renowned expert on working with people who lacked pain messages, and as a by product, had a unique perspective on pain and why pain is not always a bad thing. In working with patients in India and the US, he also had a unique perspective on the role of culture in pain and how we view it.
Notes: Medical procedures and leprosy injuries/deaths related.
- Medical History Fans/Self-Help Fans: Wow. Dr. Brand had some amazing stories. He was in the right place at the right time to make an amazing impact in medical history. His perspective on pain helps you to step back and be grateful that your body does send you messages, even if it may not feel pleasant, it does have an important purpose. In our comfort and happiness-oriented world, this was an important reminder that growth rarely happens without some struggle, that pain serves a purpose, and we would be in horrible shape without our pain receptors.
- TCKs: Brand was a TCK and his life story is amazing to read (which is primarily the first half of the book). That TCK perspective certainly helped shape his viewpoint and helped him see leprosy from a different way than anyone had before, leading him to revolutionary discoveries.
Leaving China: an Artist Paints His WWII Childhood by James McMullan
Artist James McMullan was born in northern China to a family of British missionaries there originally with China Inland Mission, but they eventually branched out with their own mission and some businesses to support that. His father helped run the business, and the family lived comfortably in China until the Japanese invaded. James tells of how he and his mother were eventually evacuated, went to America, Canada, and then India and how tumultous this time was for a boy with a British accent who only knew life in China and wasn't gifted in athletics as was demanded of many boys in that time.
Notes: One swear word, some violence, some alcoholism.
- TCKs: James doesn't identify himself as such, but he is a typical third culture kid who struggled to find an identity in all his various moves. It's a fascinating memoir, if at times a little heart breaking. I'm glad to know that James eventually found a place where he feels at "home" and figured out his unique gifts.
- WWII Interests/Short Autobiography Fans: The way this book is put together, for each spread there is a full page of text with an accompanying full page illustration done by James McMullan that relates to the text. That makes this a very quick read, and helps to further bring to life the story. The illustrations' colors and textures help form the mood for the story and definitely help you better picture what McMullan is talking about. If you're looking for a quick autobiography with a unique perspective of WWII, pick this one up.