Cover image for Finding Chika : a little girl, an earthquake, and the making of a family
Title:
Finding Chika : a little girl, an earthquake, and the making of a family
ISBN:
9780062952394
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
243 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm.
Genre:
Summary:
Chika Jeune was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. She spent her infancy in a landscape of extreme poverty, and when her mother died giving birth to a baby brother, Chika was brought to The Have Faith Haiti Orphanage that Albom operates in Port Au Prince. With no children of their own, the forty-plus children who live, play, and go to school at the orphanage have become family to Mitch and his wife, Janine. Chika's arrival makes a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, even as a three-year-old, she delights the other kids and teachers. But at age five, Chika is suddenly diagnosed with something a doctor there says, "No one in Haiti can help you with." Mitch and Janine bring Chika to Detroit, hopeful that American medical care can soon return her to her homeland. Instead, Chika becomes a permanent part of their household, and their lives, as they embark on a two-year, around-the-world journey to find a cure. As Chika's boundless optimism and humor teach Mitch the joys of caring for a child, he learns that a relationship built on love, no matter what blows it takes, can never be lost. Told in hindsight, and through illuminating conversations with Chika herself, this is Albom at his most poignant and vulnerable. Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they formed -- a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made. --
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Summary

Summary

"Mitch Albom has done it again with this moving memoir of love and loss. You can't help but fall for Chika. A page-turner that will no doubt become a classic." --Mary Karr, author of The Liars' Club and The Art of Memoir

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Tuesdays With Morrie comes Mitch Albom's most personal story to date: an intimate and heartwarming memoir about what it means to be a family and the young Haitian orphan whose short life would forever change his heart.

Chika Jeune was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. She spent her infancy in a landscape of extreme poverty, and when her mother died giving birth to a baby brother, Chika was brought to The Have Faith Haiti Orphanage that Albom operates in Port Au Prince.



With no children of their own, the forty-plus children who live, play, and go to school at the orphanage have become family to Mitch and his wife, Janine. Chika's arrival makes a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, even as a three-year-old, she delights the other kids and teachers. But at age five, Chika is suddenly diagnosed with something a doctor there says, "No one in Haiti can help you with."



Mitch and Janine bring Chika to Detroit, hopeful that American medical care can soon return her to her homeland. Instead, Chika becomes a permanent part of their household, and their lives, as they embark on a two-year, around-the-world journey to find a cure. As Chika's boundless optimism and humor teach Mitch the joys of caring for a child, he learns that a relationship built on love, no matter what blows it takes, can never be lost.



Told in hindsight, and through illuminating conversations with Chika herself, this is Albom at his most poignant and vulnerable. Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they formed--a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made.


Author Notes

Mitch Albom was born on May 23, 1958 in Passaic, New Jersey. He received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Brandeis University in 1979 and a master's degrees in journalism and business administration from Columbia University. He is an author, a newspaper columnist for the Detroit Free Press, and a nationally syndicated radio host for ABC.

He is the author of several bestselling books including Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, The Timekeeper, The First Phone Call from Heaven, and The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel. Oprah Winfrey produced a television movie for ABC based on Tuesdays with Morrie that aired in 1999 and won four Emmy Awards in 2000. The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day were also turned into ABC television movies.

He has been named the #1 Sports Columnist in the Nation by the sports editors of America. During his career, he has received more than 100 writing awards from AP, UPI, Headliners Club, and National Sportswriters and Broadcasters Associations, as well as had his work appear in numerous publications, such as Sports Illustrated, GQ, Sport, The New York Times, TV Guide, and USA Today. He hosts two radio talk shows for ABC: The Mitch Albom Show and The Mitch Albom Show on the Weekend.

He has founded two charities in the metropolitan Detroit area. The Dream Fund, which allows disadvantaged children to become involved with the arts and A Time to Help, which brings volunteers together once a month to tackle various projects in Detroit, including staffing shelters, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, and operating meals on wheels programs for the elderly.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Albom's powerful second memoir (after Tuesdays with Morrie) is a tribute to Chika, an orphaned Haitian girl whom Albom and his wife, Janine, cared for from age five to age seven, when she died from a brain tumor. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Albom took over the management of an orphanage there. In 2013, fun-loving Chika became a resident and, two years later, was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Doctors in Haiti didn't have the means to treat Chika, so Albom and his wife--who never had kids--brought her home to Michigan to help save her. Albom conveys the heartbreak of watching her suffer (Chika endured surgeries, and lost teeth and hair), while capturing Chika's sweet spirit and youthful resilience. He speaks candidly about being too career-focused and putting off having kids until it was too late, and shares how Chika allowed him and his wife to experience the glory of parenthood decades into their marriage. Albom addresses Chika directly: "You never have to worry about us forgetting you... we'd lose every memory we ever had before we would let go of yours." Both painfully sad and beautiful, this is an absolute tearjerker. (Nov.)


Kirkus Review

A young Haitian girl opens the door to unconditional love for an American couple.When Albom (The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, 2018, etc.) became director of the Have Faith Haiti Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, he knew the children would make an impact on his life, but one toddler in particular, Chika, stole his heart. She was born just three days before the earthquake that destroyed Haiti in 2010. "It was tragedy on an island where tragedy is no stranger," writes the author. When Chika arrived at the orphanage, she was only 3, but she quickly became a leader among the children. When she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, a condition the neurologist in Haiti said could not be treated there, Albom and his wife brought Chika into their Michigan home and sought out the best treatment they could find. When those treatments failed, they traveled for two years to other countries for experimental procedures, anything that would prolong Chika's life. In addition to his own viewpoint, the author narrates the story by imagining what Chika was thinking and feeling. As Albom makes clear from the start, Chika did not survive her condition (she died in 2017 at age 7); his writing about this journey is unadorned, heartwarming, and rarely maudlin. He shares his joy at becoming a father to this vivacious child, his fears as he reintroduced Chika to her biological father, and the pain and sorrow he felt when she died. He marvels at the relationship Chika had with his wife and shares his amazement that Chika so readily connected with other adults. The takeaway from this simple, moving memoir is that love has no boundaries and should not be hindered by ethnicity, religion, education, or money.A highly expressive, tender story about how "families are like pieces of art, they can be made from many materials." Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

The catastrophic earthquake that felled Haiti in 2010 spurred best-selling author Albom (The Next Person You Meet in Heaven (2018) and his wife, Janine, to immerse themselves in the relief efforts, most specifically in the fate of an orphanage that was home to dozens of children left rudderless by the destruction. Among them was Chika, a precocious and cunning three-year-old who instantly endears herself to the Alboms. When she is diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, they bring her to their home in Detroit and embark upon a daunting but determined quest to find a cure. Well past the age when most couples have a family, the Alboms all but adopt Chika and discover the joys of parenthood they thought had passed them by. Told through flashbacks and episodes of magical realism where Chika makes herself known to the grieving author, Chika's story of hope, faith, and unconditional love is simultaneously uplifting and tragic. Keep the tissues handy, for Albom bares his soul in this lustrous tribute to a short but impactful life.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Megapopular Albom's gift for plucking heartstrings and finding meaning in life, which has endeared him to millions, is on full display here.--Carol Haggas Copyright 2019 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Following a string of best-selling novels, Albom returns to nonfiction after 2009's Have a Little Faith. After Haiti is struck by a devastating earthquake in 2010, Albom and his wife, Janine, begin operating the Have Faith Haiti Orphanage. When Chika, a three-year-old girl at the orphanage, has medical issues that can't be addressed in Haiti, Albom and his wife bring Chika to the United States. Chika is diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, with little chance of recovery; Albom and Janine pursue every treatment option. Chika's spirits remain buoyant despite her hardship, and her presence reshapes Albom's sense of love, family, and responsibility. The experience, and conversations with Chika, motivate Albom to share her story with others. VERDICT Albom's memoir is a lens into his grief but also a celebration of Chika's spirit and lessons gleaned from their time together as a family. The heartbreaking but uplifting story is a testament to the bravery and resilience of children and the power of love. Essential for all public libraries.--Anitra Gates, Erie Cty. P.L., PA