Pleng’s Song by Patrick Maher
Living a life of privilege and attending Union of Hearts International School might be every girls dream, but for Pleng, nothing comes easy. Faced with a family crisis, a poor self-image, and approaching floodwater, she can’t imagine the adventure that awaits her. With parents who are incapable of teaching her about growing pains, Pleng is forced to learn them on her own the hard way the very hard way.
Pleng’s Song is a children’s novel that takes the reader through the journey of an 11-year-old girl named Pleng (which translates to “song” in English). I thought that the story was an interesting concept that children would enjoy. As an adult reader, though, I feel that the story could have been a bit more developed than it was. When Pleng was trying to survive on the “snake island”, for example, she did not seem all that afraid of the things – which I’m assuming she had never done before – that she was forced to do. She caught, killed, cooked, and consumed snakes that she found – one of which almost suffocated her. There were parts of the story, such as the aforementioned instance, that I felt were not very realistic. However, it is a children’s story, so maybe my ramblings are for nothing. The story was satisfactory though.
Pleng is a strong and courageous character, who the reader witnesses grow throughout the story. She starts off as a bit of a brat, but decides to change her ways while facing near-death circumstances. I felt sympathetic to this character throughout the story. Her family doesn’t seem to give a hoot about her and she doesn’t seem to have any close friends (until she becomes the talk of the town). She seemingly has no one to lean on. Then she finds herself out all alone, lost in a natural disaster and has to find a way to survive. Poor girl…
The writing is very good for the nature of the book. It is a children’s book, so it is a quick and easy read. Children will have no problem powering through the book’s entirety and becoming enveloped in the story. It’s creative and unique in parts. Some elements reminded me of other books – one that comes to mind is Life of Pi. But, overall, I would say that Maher brought his own uniqueness into the storyline.
Overall, I feel that Pleng’s Song is a worthy book for children to read. I believe that kids will enjoy the story through the eyes of the narrator, Pleng. I think the cover of the novel is very fitting – a child curled up in the corner all alone. It encompasses the feeling brought on by the main character. I don’t really like the title, however. Pleng’s Song – Pleng says in the book that her name translates to the word “song”. So, then the title – when translated to English – reads Song’s Song? I don’t know, I just don’t really care for the title. The book also doesn’t seem to have any very strong morals for children (maybe a light moral of being a good person, but it doesn’t quite seem to hold strong as a moral); the book seems to be merely for entertainment, so I would recommend it to young children for this purpose.
Quote from the book: