Postcard from the Lushai Brigade is touching, emotive, and beautifully written middle-grade historical fiction about sibling bond, the innocence of youth, and the reality of war and its impact on lives.
Postcard from the Lushai Brigade by Hannah Lalhlanpuii
Publication Date : August 15, 2023
Publisher : Duckbill
Read Date : August 7, 2023
Genre : Middle-Grade / Historical fiction
Pages : 112
Other books in series I have read –
Disclaimer – Many thanks to publisher for review copy.
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The world that the young boy at the heart of this story is growing up in is filled with magic and the simple joys of life with his brother Kima. Even the British presence in the Lushai Hills, so resented by some, does not affect him, except as a source of interesting and different things and people.
But as the Japanese prepare to invade their land, Kima joins up with the British Indian Army, and the days of simple joy are over . . .
The Songs of Freedom series explores the lives of children across India during the struggle for independence.
Review of Postcard from the Lushai Brigade
Postcard from the Lushai Brigade is touching and beautifully written middle-grade historical fiction. It follows the life of 14 yr old Bawiha and his elder brother Kima who grew up listening to tales of magic and sorcerer from their grandmother.
Their life in Aizwal, one of the villages in Lushai Hills (now called Mizoram) has been peaceful until war comes knocking at their door. Their life takes a poignant turn when Kima volunteers to fight with British troops and joins Lushai Brigade.
Writing is beautiful often poetic and emotive. Postcard from the Lushai Brigade is told from Bawiha’s perspective taking us from their childhood to growing up to their adulthood, his love for stories and legends, how his mother worked for Superintendent Mr. McCall and his wife, his grandmother’s strong view against English ways, Kima attending English Missionary school and how they both found work to earn money. But at the heart of it, is a strong sibling bond between Bawiha and Kima.
Kima is five years older than Bawiha. Bawiha never knew his father but Kima never let him realize his absence. Kima is smart and responsible, and kind to a fault. He would help anyone who would ask for it. He taught Bawiha everything and Bawiha looked upon him for everything. Bawiha is a young innocent boy who cheered his brother on every achievement even when he volunteered to join Lushai Brigade.
It was heartbreaking to see how Bawiha’s innocence slowly shattered when he realized guns and wars aren’t all about glory and what can happen in the war. It was a significant shift in his life and the story. It was poignant how he realized Kima might not return. His anxiety and fears about not receiving any news of his brother is touching. The hope of receiving the letter and how it helped him find purpose in life and the news he received in the end were brilliantly written.
There is theme and layers of color discrimination, courage, the innocence of youth, love, fear, resilience, changes with time, and reality of war and its impact on lives.
I really enjoyed the cultural myth and legends of Lushai Hills. It was interesting and also heart-aching to read how villagers lives changed over time with British settlement, how British officers slowly took away their freedom and those who didn’t bend to their rules were imprisoned or executed, how they have no choice but to work for British officers and often were not paid for their work.
As the war with the Japanese around WWII near the village, more soldiers arrived in the village and their situation turned even worse with drunk soldiers picking up fights and disturbing the peace.
Color discrimination was on both sides. Some villagers and Bawiha’s grandmother didn’t treat the half-bloods well while the officers and their family called their white skin superior to others in the world.
I liked the messages in the book conveyed through Bawiha and Kima. Both brothers though young could see skin color doesn’t matter but what the person is inside is important. Some changes that came with British were good, like how Mrs McCall worked for women’s welfare and educated them about birth control and contraception while some changes were difficult for people.
While I don’t mind Westernization I could see how it caused cultural changes as well. I liked how the movement of Independent India changed Bawiha and many other’s view towards the British government, and how they realized they have right to be free in their own land. And at last the message about what is true courage and true hero.
Climax and end is not very surprising but Bawiha made me cling to hope till the end. I loved author’s note about historical facts was interesting.
Overall, Postcard from the Lushai Brigade is touching, emotive, and beautifully written middle-grade historical fiction about sibling bond, the innocence of youth, and the reality of war and its impact on lives.
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