Enlighten Me – book review

Enlighten Me
by Minh Le & Chan Chau
Graphic Novel
Realistic Fiction
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Binh gets into trouble in school when he starts a fight with the kid who has been bullying him. Instead of being seen as a hero for standing up for himself, Binh finds that his family and the school administration are punishing him for his actions. His folks take the whole family away for a vacation retreat to a silent meditation camp, and despite complaints from the kids, everyone seems to come away from the experience feeling more peaceful and connected to one another. First lesson: meditation is really hard! But the kids get a little break from it. Although Binh and the other kids aren’t allowed to speak, one of the monks tells them stories about the Buddha and his life, which Binh really takes to heart – especially those of having a supportive and loving community among his family and friends (he’s not sure if fighting bullies off with a diamond of wisdom will work, but he’ll consider the possibility of not responding as they expect him to). Binh’s anger dissipates and is replaced by the love he feels for his family. This is a gentle introduction to some of the principles and stories of Buddhism told through the eyes and experiences of a young man who, although initially skeptical, finds some value in what he learns. There’s no resolution with the bullies, which is probably realistic in a lot of cases, but there’s resolution in Binh’s heart. Recommended for 5th-8th grade.

Reviewed by YA Librarian

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