Review: 'Finding Chika' is bittersweet memoir about family

This cover image released by Harper shows "Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family," by Mitch Albom. (Harper via AP)

New Mitch Albom memoir 'Finding Chika' tells bittersweet story of Haitian girl who becomes family

"Finding Chika: a little girl, an earthquake, and the making of a family" (Harper), by Mitch Albom

The author of "Tuesdays with Morrie" has a new memoir in which he again shares lessons learned from someone dear to him who dies. This time, though, instead of an old professor, his teacher is a young girl from the orphanage he runs in Haiti.

It is not a spoiler to reveal that Chika dies. In a rawness that pervades "Finding Chika," Mitch Albom breaks the heartrending news on the very first page. "Her absence left us without breath, or sleep, or appetite, and my wife and I stared straight ahead for long stretches until someone spoke to snap us out of it," Albom writes.

His reflections on Chika's life and how she came to live with them in America as they sought treatment for her brain tumor are punctuated by accounts of Chika's post-mortem "visits" to him as he writes this book in his home office.

"Chika never stays for long. She first appeared eight months after she died, the morning of my father's funeral," Albom explains. "I said her name in disbelief — 'Chika?' — and she turned, so I knew she could hear me. I spoke quickly, believing this was a dream and she would vanish at any moment. That was then. Lately, when she appears, I say, 'Good morning, beautiful girl,' and she says, 'Good morning, Mr. Mitch' ... You can get used to everything in life, I suppose. Even this."

Albom and his wife had no children of their own, a circumstance for which he blames himself. "I thought starting a family was like a new carpet I could store in a closet and unroll when I was ready," he tells Chika during one of her appearances. By the time they tried, years of attempts failed and ultimately the couple settled into the roles of aunt and uncle. "It is all right not to have children if you don't want them, Chika, but if you do, their absence can be aching."

It was both fortuitous and tragic, then, that Albom and his wife became de facto parents to Chika the final years of her life, experiencing parenthood for the first time in late middle age. "I remember times you and I were walking and, without prompting, you reached out and took my hand, your little fingers sliding into mine. I would like to tell you how that felt, but it is too big for words," Albom writes. "You put me on the other end of a magnifying glass or a toy telescope, and through those lenses, I could marvel at the world the way you did. You were an unfailing antidote to adult preoccupation."

Their desperate attempts to find a cure for a notoriously incurable condition, and the many interventions Chika endures, can be difficult to read at times. Despite knowing how it ends, a reader can't help but hope the story turns out differently.

Ultimately, "Finding Chika" is a touching rumination on the magic of children, the extraordinary lengths parents will go for them and the unlikely family that came together across continents.

Related News

Daughter of Motown stars to Detroit students: Find your beat

Aug 11, 2016

The daughter of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and one of its biggest stars, Diana Ross, says young Detroiters should learn about their city's rich artistic legacy _ then forge their own path

Stephen Colbert, Showtime in talks for live election special

Aug 11, 2016

Showtime is in talks with Stephen Colbert to host a live election-night comedy special, the channel's chief executive says

Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah each land a Showtime series

Aug 11, 2016

Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah will each star in their own half-hour comedy series for Showtime

You may also like these

Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan gets US apology for airport stop

Aug 12, 2016

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan tweeted that he gets detained at U.S. airports "every damn time" after he was stopped at the Los Angeles International Airport

'Criminal Minds' veteran Thomas Gibson fired from CBS drama

Aug 12, 2016

Thomas Gibson has been dismissed from the long-running CBS drama "Criminal Minds."

Is NBC's prime-time Olympics due for a change?

Aug 12, 2016

For all the changes media and even Olympics coverage, NBC sticks to a time-honored formula for its prime-time broadcast

Our trendy reporters are fashionistas who love gossips as much as you do. We don’t just report the news, but we report it uniquely so you can read with style, only in Trendy Reporter.

Contact us: sales@trendyreporter.com

Entertainment Award Shows Celebrity Fashion Shows Movies Music Television Programs Press Releases