I realized families are like pieces of art: They can be made from many materials. Sometimes they are from birth, sometimes they are melded, sometimes they are forcibly constructed, and sometimes they are merely the confluence of time and circumstance, mixing together, like eggs being scrambled in a Michigan kitchen.
But they are all real. Chika was a daughter to a number of people. And for the last two years, she was ours, gloriously ours…
We did not lose a child. We were given one.
— Mitch Albom, “Chika’s Story” in the Detroit Free Press
Chika Jeune was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. She spent her infancy in a landscape of extreme poverty, and when her mother died giving birth to a baby brother, Chika was brought to the Have Faith Haiti Mission & Orphanage that Albom operates in Port-au-Prince.
With no children of their own, the forty-plus children who live, play, and go to school at the orphanage have become family to Mitch and his wife, Janine. Chika’s arrival makes a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, even as a three-year-old, she delights the other kids and teachers. But at age five, Chika is suddenly diagnosed with something a doctor there says, “No one in Haiti can help you with.”
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Mitch and Janine bring Chika to Detroit, hopeful that they can get the medical help needed to return her to a healthy life in Haiti. Instead, Chika becomes a permanent part of their household, and their lives, as they embark on a two-year, around-the-world journey to find a cure for an inoperable brain tumor. As Chika’s boundless optimism and humor teach Mitch the joys a child brings to their lives, he learns that a relationship built on love, no matter what blows it takes, can never be lost.
Told in hindsight, and through illuminating conversations with Chika herself, this is Albom at his most poignant and vulnerable. Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her guardians, and the incredible bond they formed—a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made.
What Readers Are Saying...
“Unadorned, heartwarming…the takeaway from this simple, moving memoir is that love has no boundaries and should not be hindered by ethnicity, religion, education, or money. A highly expressive, tender story about how ‘families are like pieces of art, they can be made from many materials.'” — Kirkus
“This is a story of such heart-wrenching beauty that you think it would take a Mitch Albom to compose it. But Albom is more than the author, for it was his own heart that was broken open by the surprising arrival and excruciating departure of a dazzling little Haitian girl named Chika—who became, in every way that matters, his and his wife’s precious daughter — and it is his own life he seeks to patch back together in the telling.” — Melissa Fay Greene, two-time National Book Award finalist and author of There Is No Me Without You
“Mitch Albom has done it again with this moving memoir of love and loss. You can’t help but fall for Chika. A page-turner that will no doubt become a classic.” —Mary Karr, author of The Liars’ Club and The Art of Memoir
“Chika’s story of hope, faith, and unconditional love is simultaneously uplifting and tragic…In this lustrous tribute to a short but impactful life, Albom’s gift for plucking heartstrings and finding meaning in life, which has endeared him to millions, is on full display.” — Booklist
“Albom’s memoir is a lens into his grief but also a celebration of Chika’s spirit and lessons gleaned from their time together as a family. The heartbreaking but uplifting story is a testament to the bravery and resilience of children and the power of love. Essential for all public libraries.” — Library Journal
““Finding Chika” is a touching rumination on the magic of children, the extraordinary lengths parents will go for them and the unlikely family that came together across continents” — AP
“Emotionally rich and deeply affecting, the scope of Albom’s writing is breathtaking and a gut punch to the soul. You won’t be able to put the book down until the very last page. This intimate portrait should be read by anyone who has ever been warmed by the smile of a child.” — Booktrib
“A heartbreaking story of love, grief and the true meaning of family.” — Daily Mirror (UK)
“Although Finding Chika makes for heart-wrenching reading, it is also a tale of resilience and decency.” — The Independent (UK)
“Suffused with a warmth and humanity that evaporates all cynicism…This book is a lovely but heartbreaking tribute to her memory.” — The Independent (Ireland)
“..the book follows the efforts he and Janine go to, to try and save her. But more than that, it’s about the wonderful changes Chika brings about in Albom and his wife’s own lives – opening them up to a new kind of family; giving them a new perspective on what is important … it is also frank, incredibly upsetting at times and very moving. But somehow, despite the pain and sadness, what you remember is how surprisingly funny and hopeful it is – and Chika too.” — Irish News
“Yes, this is a deeply gut-wrenching book that will bring you to tears (probably repeatedly). But it’s also a book about the remarkable and unexpected nature of love and the impact it can have on us if we open ourselves to it. Raw and emotional, Finding Chika is deeply rewarding read.” — Sight Magazine
Book Tour Events
Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People you Meet in Heaven, Finding Chika – these are just a few of the inspiring stories created by best-selling author Mitch Albom. Join CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health (www.CHIStJosephChildrensHealth.org) on October 1st as we welcome Mr. Albom for the 5th installment of our Community Conversation Series to explore the nature of healthy communities with community leaders. Learning from Mr. Albom’s experiences – both personal and professional – the conversation will explore his vision of a healthy community, the struggles and successes he has witnessed as communities have worked toward healthier more empowering cultures, and his thoughts on how communities can strive to create environments where every child, resident and family can thrive.
Mr. Albom follows previous visits by former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, former RNC Chair and Maryland Lt. Michael Steele, Chef and Humanitarian José Andés, and former UN Ambassador and Pulitzer Prize winning author Samantha Power. Each speaker has shared their insights into the nature of a healthy community and steps that we, as local residents, can take to support and nurture an environment where every person has the opportunity to thrive.
Time: 5:30PM VIP Reception (VIP Ticket Required) / 7:30PM Conversation/Presentation (A Book Signing will following immediately after the Conversation)
Location: The Lancaster Theological Seminary – Santee Chapel (555 W. James St., Lancaster, PA). The VIP Reception will be held in the Dietz Hall Refectory at Lancaster Theological Seminary
The Chika Fund covers life-saving medical costs and health care, including inoculations, nutrition, regular doctor checkups, medical tests and if-needed hospitalizations at Have Faith Haiti.
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