Minnesota author Kao Kalia Yang knew Ghia Nah, the little girl that inspired her latest children’s book The Shared Room. Six-year-old Ghia and her family, Hmong American like Yang, attended the author’s readings. But a few summers ago, the family was devastated by the tragic drowning of their eldest daughter.
Wanting to honor Ghia and her family, as well as help other kids undergoing the difficult grieving process of losing a sibling, Yang composed this poignant story and enlisted local Hmong American artist Xee Reiter to illustrate it.
One scene in The Shared Room, when Ghia Nah’s parents asked her younger brother if he wanted to move into her now-vacant room, is especially emotional. The boy who tried so hard to be strong broke down and wept, expressing the raw grief and struggle to move forward after the loss of his sister.
This openhearted picture book captures the pain of a family dealing with the unexpected loss of a child, and the love and strength it takes to keep going.
32 pages, $16.95, upress.umn.edu