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This is one of the richest, deepest books I've read in years. Lama's prose is both precise and magical––a boy's light and quiet voice "crackles like a bent feather." It is a story of unspeakable hardship endured by the Tibetan people, driven from their farms and villages and monasteries by Chinese invaders; it is also a story of two sisters, inseparable, orphaned, who grow up in a Nepalese refugee camp––I'm eighty pages in and I'm already addicted to the calm, true, all-seeing voice of this dream of a book.
I think I understand why people say representation is important. It’s not so much about seeing someone mirror you, it’s about seeing the shared loss that built you and me, and maybe along the way you and I won’t feel so lonely anymore. We measure the earth with our bodies is a mirror any Tibetan can look into and will see themselves. Each chapter soothes you while wringing your heart. It’s the most beautiful story I have ever read – a family saga of three generations that lived through trauma and loss, passed down as an inheritance. The first generation was forced to walk away from our ancestral land, the second generation lived with a constant hope to return home and the third generation is just lost. The previous generation’s tragedy drove the next to seek freedom and go out in the world, but at the same time, the ghost of the past still lingers around in the form of sacrifices, misery, hope, and kindness. The book depicts exactly what a refugee means – someone who belongs neither here nor there. Dolma summarizes it quite well, “The very fact that you can even make such decisions belies your distance from Tibetans. Because your fate isn’t tied to ours. Our history doesn’t live in your family. This doesn’t hurt you in the same way –“
You will not find such a book anywhere else or in any history. This is about you and me, and the ashes Dolma spread at the border. Please read it and let me know whom you saw in Lhamo, Tenkyi, and Dolma. The title “We measure the earth with our bodies” aptly depicts Tibetans– people from the land of snow whose tears are lost in the rain.