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The Rainbow Troops: A Novel by Andrea Hirata

The Rainbow Troops: A Novel

by Andrea Hirata

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1429120,964 (4.05)26
  1. 00
    Malgudi Days by R. K. Narayan (bibliobibuli)
    bibliobibuli: Both heartwarming and charming.

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English (7)  Indonesian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This was as charming as it was inspirational. The author relates his time in the local village school in a remote corner of Indonesia, growing up with his 10 classmates and friends, The Rainbow Troops. The book doesn't shy away from the grinding poverty, the incredible hardship and the shocking state of education in this part of the world, but doesn't seek the reader's pity. Instead, this is an uplifting, hopeful account, often humerous, with characters who you can't help but cheer on.

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in foreign cultures, but, since this is a story about education and the love of learning, I'd recommend it in particular to teachers.
( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
Picked this book up while browsing in a Malaysian bookstore - so surprised that I hadn't heard of it before - I'd say it was the perfect novel for Malaysian teens and ought to find its way into classrooms across the country.

It is a charming tale, by turns funny and very touching, of a class of students at an Islamic school on a small Malaysian island, succeeding against all odds ... for a while at least, until abject poverty kicks in and thwarts all aspirations. The main message is about the importance of education and how it needs to be available to all.

Gave it 4 rather than 5 stars because I personally found it a little too simple, and I want more complexity and challenge in my reads. (I could better imagine a younger self reading it.) Reminded me of R.K. Narayan's stories. ( )
  bibliobibuli | Apr 4, 2015 |
This book was enjoyable (up to a point) Although the characters were delightfully drawn I found the story a little far fetched and I think the book suffered in translation from the original Indonesian. It started off well but seemed to "peter out" in the last chapters. The writer only told us of the outcome for some of the characters and we did not get to find out how he himself became successful given that he was a mediocre student and came from such a poor family. ( )
1 vote lesleynicol | Dec 18, 2014 |
The story of a group of classmates at a very poor school in Indonesia, their difficulties, their successes, the role of the surrounding society on them, the role of chance. It is moving and enlightening. ( )
1 vote pnorman4345 | Aug 25, 2013 |
The Rainbow Troops is one of those books that make you feel good inside and positive about the people that inhabit this Earth. This tale is fiction, but is strongly autobiographical of the author’s life growing up in Indonesia. The story is told in the first person, of a boy growing up with the desire to attend school. In this day and age, this strikes us as somewhat unusual – everyone attends school, whether they want to or not. But for Ikal and his friends, they have to wait at the village school to see if there are enough pupils for the school to run. Luckily, at the eleventh hour, they have the numbers and the Rainbow Troops (as they later name themselves) set off on a life-changing journey, led by two wonderful teachers.

The book reveals the scrapes that the Rainbow Troops get into as youngsters and their strengths and triumphs (particularly over the richer PN school). The school lacks even the most basic equipment required by the government, but it doesn’t stop the group from learning. We learn of the great poverty of the village, where children aspire to be menial workers (for example, coconut grater) and the desperation of the teachers to change that. Despite the barriers, the Rainbow Troops overcome many trials and tribulations to achieve what they want the most – an education.

As the troop grows up, the narrative becomes darker (although there is a sweet subplot about first love). Two troop members have fascinations with the spiritual underworld and others are forced out of school. As the school battles its own demons, the Rainbow Troops become dejected, losing faith in what they have achieved. Can they find their way back and will it make a difference to their lives?

I felt this book was divided into three parts – the funny, lighter part when the troops were young, the ennui that occurred in their teenage years and then the final part as adults – beaten but still with hope. Each part had its own tone and it was quite a change for these determined youngsters to suddenly not be bothered. Other parts were absolutely heartbreaking – I felt quite emotional with what happened to some of the characters. As I believe this book is the first of four (I don’t think all are published in English), I thought the final part was a bit rushed. It was good to see what became of Ikal and his friends, but I wonder if it’s covered in greater detail in the other books…

I’d read this book if you’re feeling a bit down and dissatisfied with your life – reading about the Rainbow Troops is certainly inspiring and will remind you of what you have, and what’s important.

Thank you to The Reading Room and Random House for an eARC copy. (My opinion is 100% my own).

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
1 vote birdsam0610 | Mar 4, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This autobiographical novel, written in simple, conversational prose by Andrea Hirata, was a record-breaking bestseller in Indonesia when it was published in 2005. Now in English, the story follows the students from their first day to their teens as they discover their strengths, build friendships in the shade of the school’s filicium tree, learn courage and grace from their teachers and dream of a better future.
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Book description
The first book of Laskar Pelangi tetralogy
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374246319, Hardcover)

Published in Indonesia in 2005, The Rainbow Troops, Andrea Hirata’s closely autobiographical debut novel, sold more than five million copies, shattering records. Now it promises to captivate audiences around the globe.

Ikal is a student at the poorest village school on the Indonesian island of Belitong, where graduating from sixth grade is considered a remarkable achievement. His school is under constant threat of closure. In fact, Ikal and his friends—a group nicknamed the Rainbow Troops—face threats from every angle: skeptical government officials, greedy corporations hardly distinguishable from the colonialism they’ve replaced, deepening poverty and crumbling infrastructure, and their own low self-confidence.

But the students also have hope, which comes in the form of two extraordinary teachers, and Ikal’s education in and out of the classroom is an uplifting one. We root for him and his friends as they defy the island’s powerful tin mine officials. We meet his first love, the unseen girl who sells chalk from behind a shop screen, whose pretty hands capture Ikal’s heart. We cheer for Lintang, the class’s barefoot math genius, as he bests the students of the mining corporation’s school in an academic challenge. Above all, we gain an intimate acquaintance with the customs and people of the world’s largest Muslim society.

This is classic storytelling in the spirit of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner: an engrossing depiction of a milieu we have never encountered before, bursting with charm and verve.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:37 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"On Indonesia's Belitong Island--impoverished and tyrannized by tin-mining interests--a wily group of schoolchildren fight for their right to education"--

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