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Pleng's Song by Patrick Maher

Pleng's Song

by Patrick Maher

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Recently added byBrokenTeepee, DonnerLibrary

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Pleng is a girl in Thailand who in some ways has everything. She goes to a prestigious private school, lives in a nice house with a cook and driver, and has access to technology like an iPhone and laptop. On the other hand, her parents are entirely absent leaving Pleng to face disastrous floods on her own. Pleng's Song is the story of a girl forced to grow up and face reality through a series of harsh adventures.

Pleng's Song is fast-paced and easily read in a day. The author accurately captures the voice and attitude of a privileged adolescent girl. While Pleng is not an easy character to like at the beginning of the book, it quickly becomes clear that her story is more complex than that of a spoiled brat. The adults in Pleng's life tend to be cruel, absent, or both. I think kids could identify with many of her feelings even if her situation is far more extreme than theirs.

As an adult, I am clearly not in the target audience for this book and I wonder if the adult perspective leads me to be a bit more critical of the plot. I found parts of the story to be unrealistic in nature although they were related in a very realistic fashion. Pleng becomes famous after she is lost in the floods that ravage Thailand but why is she famous when so many others were lost as well? One simple line relates that her parents had called for a nation-wide search to find her but why would they do that when they had deceived and abandoned her for the majority of her life? Even when she is found and brought to safety, her parents do not show affection for her or make any attempt to apologize for the past.

I also wonder at Pleng's ability to survive on her own especially following a head injury. After a life filled with maids, drivers, private school, and technology it is hard to believe that she would suddenly develop the skills and knowledge necessary to survive in and out of the water for that long.

Despite these plot questions I enjoyed Pleng's Song a great deal. I think this book could be a great way to introduce children to another culture and to show the impact that natural disasters can have on a family and community.

I received a paperback copy of Pleng's Song from the author for review purposes. ( )
  DonnerLibrary | Sep 2, 2012 |
Pleng's Song is a Young Adult novel (novella?) geared towards the 8 - 14 year old age group.
I am a long way from that age group.
A very long way and perhaps my imagination has let me down. Or lack thereof as I just didn't get this tale of a young girl in a private school who faces a drunken mother, faithless father and flooding.

Pleng (whose name means song so the title translates to "Song's Song) is confuses and at times hateful but she has no parental guidance at all. In fact her mother's character is so thinly fleshed out she is simply a vomiting, drunken entity with no other purpose. Her father plays a larger role but he is no moral compass for a young girl so I wonder what this book is trying to show.

As Pleng finds herself alone a flood overtakes her city and she sets off on an adventure of survival that I suspect the target demographic will find interesting. This is where my imagination failed me. The writing in this series of chapters was good but I am not good with allegory - I tend to be a literal type of person and if it's not in front of me I can't "see the big picture" if you know what I mean.

As the flood recedes and Pleng is restored to her semblance of a family she finds that she was living in a circle of lies which could probably be said for many a family. She sets out to search for a homeless boy she tried to help before the flood and when she finds him her father bans him from the house and she spends her life searching for this illusive friend.

I found the writing to be be good and Pleng was a well developed character. The homeless boy was, I suppose her "white whale." But as I mentioned, allegory is not my thing so this just was not a book for me. I'm sure that in the right hands Mr. Maher's words would sing the right notes. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Aug 27, 2012 |
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