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But when he has forbidden contact with a foreign explorer, Thunder is banished from his village. He is forced to join a monastery to lead a quiet life of study and meditation under the tutelage of his uncle, a high-ranking monk. At the monastery, though, life is anything but quiet. Thunder has to ...
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But when he has forbidden contact with a foreign explorer, Thunder is banished from his village. He is forced to join a monastery to lead a quiet life of study and meditation under the tutelage of his uncle, a high-ranking monk. At the monastery, though, life is anything but quiet. Thunder has to stand up to Zang-po, his uncle's resentful servant, and--even worse--defend himself against Pounder, the menacing soldier who endangers his life. Will he find peace at the monastery, or will he rebel against the life set out for him?
Readers will come to care about Thunder as they turn the pages of this fast-paced, engrossing story set in a truly captivating time and place.
Books for the Teen Age 2001 (NYPL)
Although he rebels against life in the Tibetan Buddhist monastery where he had been sent, fourteen-year-old Thunder comes to some amazing realizations about himself.
SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)
Thunder stood where the ground slanted up and the wind whipped his hair. Below him a caravan of traders and yaks snaked through the narrow pass that led into this valley from the world beyond. His uncle and his brother Joker struggled down the sheer path toward their village. But Thunder hung back, spellbound by the shaggy yaks lumbering along under the ash-colored sky, the bells strung around their necks tinkling now and then. It fascinated him that strangers found their way here only to leave at once and roam far away.
Like all Tibetan caravans, this one was made up of people and animals, but no carts. An ancient prophecy said that when wheeled vehicles came to Tibet, the country would be conquered by foreignersfringies.
"Let's go see the traders!" Thunder called to the others. He wanted to bury his nose in the yaks' tangled fur and find out once and for all whether, coming from so far away, they smelled different from the village yaks.
But as he started down the shale toward the caravan, Second Uncle Tendruk shouted back at him, "Thunder, no closer! They're fringies."
Reluctantly Thunder turned away from the caravan and followed his uncle. "Fringies, Second Aku Tendruk?" he asked. "No, they're Tibetan yaks and Tibetan traders."
"They're not from our village," Tendruk growled. "That's fringie enough." With a tight jaw Tendruk nodded at the can of wildflowers at Thunder's feet. They had spent the afternoon in the meadow above their village of Chu Lungba, collecting herbs to pound into medicine. Now they were on their wayhome.
Thunder picked up the can. But walking backward to catch a last glimpse of the caravan, he soon lagged behind again. From a distance he spun around and burst out, "Second Aku, why do you always hold me back from talking to the traders?"
"Talking to traders is not our way!" Tendruk barked, his eyes furious as he looked back at Thunder.
But Thunder raised his voice, running over his uncle's words in a rush: "You say fringie, but what do you know about fringies? Have you ever been outside Tibet? Or even outside our valley?"
"Brazen questions!" Tendruk shouted, striding toward Thunder with his fist up.
Thunder stuck out his chin and opened his mouth to argue, then realized that Tendruk looked ready to hit him. He bowed his head instead.
They went on hiking in silence for several minutes before Tendruk added in a tight voice, "I know only one thing about fringies, but Thunder, one thing is enough. Any fringie in Tibet must be killed."
"Because they are like evil spirits," Joker added.
"No more talk about such things," Tendruk commanded.
Their feet crunched rhythmically on the gravel. "Did you know the world is enormous, Aku?" Thunder asked timidly. "It holds five other countries besides Tibet."
Tendruk was gripping the handle of his can hard. "That's not true."
"It is true!" Thunder insisted. "The peddler told me himself, and you know he travels everywhere. He even told me the countries' names. They are China, Queenvictoria, California, England, and Minestrone. Aku . . ." Thunder looked across at Tendruk. What was the use of keeping secrets that would come out sooner or later? "Aku, I want to be a trader myself someday," he said in a rush. "I want to see"
"We're not traders, I tell you! That's not our way! Now silence! Who knows which evil spirits are listening?" This time Tendruk strode away, leaving his nephews behind.
"Aku," Thunder called weakly, but Tendruk only dashed his hand through the air as he stalked off.
Joker stomped after Tendruk, imitating his walk. But after a few yards he spun around, laughing, and skipped back to Thunder.
"Stop it," Thunder muttered, but when Joker's expression turned worried, Thunder cuffed him good-naturedly. "Silly Bones," he said with a chuckle. "Look who thinks he knows about serious things like evil spirits and fringies."
"Of course I know about evil spirits," Joker chirped. "Children sense their presence. And you heard Second Aku, fringies are practically evil spirits, too. Or worse. You are as naughty to talk about one as about the other."
"I didn't say even one naughty thing about evil spirits," Thunder said, but he closed his hand over the silver charm box he always wore on a yak-hair cord around his neck to protect himself from demons.
"You talked about fringies, and that's not our way!" Joker cried as he scampered up the path in front of his brother.
"I did not."
"I'm scaring you! I am!"
"You are not! Besides, if you can sense evil spirits, so can I."
"No, no, no," Joker said, shaking his head. "Fourteen is too old. Look up there, the evil spirits are coming for you already. The sky is gray because they're wearing gray chubas!"
"They're coming for you. Now stop it!" Thunder commanded. "It isn't funny!" His can knocked against Joker's leg, spilling most of the flowers onto the path.
But Joker never knew when to quit. "It is so funny," he said. "Evil spirits are coming after you, but they can't catch me!" He shot over the crest of the hill and was gone.
"Joker! Get back here!" Thunder stared after him, waiting for him to come skipping back like before. When he didn't, Thunder looked toward where the traders had been. But they had disappeared, too. He sighed and began to gather the spilled flowers, expecting Joker to appear any minute and wrestle him to the ground.
He straightened up and looked around, realizing with a jolt that a storm was looming all around him. Rain clouds were rolling in overhead; the juniper bushes flapped hard.
Soon it was raining, and before he could collect all the flowers, those on the ground were transparent and limp.
Posted June 26, 2000
Tibet has always been very difficult to understand, so different from Western culture. 'Rebel' lets a reader see Tibet from the inside, through the eyes of Tibetans at home there, not through the eyes of Western visitors. It gave me a feel for what it might be like to actually be Tibetan, and helped me to see how people from other non-Western cultures might think and feel. Definitely not just for teenagers.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 12, 2000
Wow! What a wonderful window into Tibetan culture. The excitement kept my nephew reading, and there is a spiritual side to the story that greatly interested me. I learned a lot about Tibet at the turn of the century, but the information never got in the way of the story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.