Cover Image: Hamra and the Jungle of Memories

Hamra and the Jungle of Memories

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Member Reviews

Even without knowledge of Malaysian folklore, this fantastical tale of magical quests, through myth and beast to restore an aching family, hits all the high notes.  I have deeply enjoyed Alkaf's other works, so knew that Hamra would be filled with sass, traditional lore, tasty local foods, and a good tug at the heartstrings.  
I'm a big fan of character growth through adventure, and Hamra is a great example of doing this well.  She starts off quite cranky and irritable (understandably, being in the middle of a pandemic, with parents away helping the relief efforts, and a grandmother increasingly showing signs of dementia).  However, her rash decisions and spontaneity throw her into a quest with a reliable friend and a dangerous weretiger, forcing her to face multiple fears, her own stubbornness, and the fact that some curses cannot be lifted.  A wonderful story of magical realism that any age can enjoy and learn from.
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It felt a little slow at the beginning as I stumbled over words that were foreign to me, but after I was able to get past that I really got into the story and couldn't put it down.

I'd love to read more fairy tale retellings from different countries.

This was a free copy via NetGalley.
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*4.5 Stars*

Hamra isn't too happy, everyone forgot her 13th birthday, so she does what she's been warned against her entire life and ignores the rules of the jungle. And now, she has a debt to pay to an awful weretiger and has to go on a terrifying quest deep into the jungle.

This was a very good middle grade book. I really liked Hamra, she was a very interesting character and point of view and I liked seeing how she handled challenges and friendships and family relationships. She was captivating from beginning to end. I also enjoyed the plot and the world and the setting. I loved that it was urban fantasy and talked about the pandemic and the struggles that implied but also that it was set in Malaysia. It truly was a great book, a great story and I'm really looking forward to reading more from Hanna Alkaf.
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This is a beautiful middle grade read following Hamra on her birthday as she ventures into the rainforest jungle, throwing away all the superstitious rules meant to keep her safe. 

What I love:
- Gave the same energy as reading Percy Jackson for the 1st time
- Grandma has dementia, my own grandma does and I think it was represented well
- set during the pandemic in Malaysia, making it known how lonely and neglected Hamra felt
- Magical Realism (I think? I don't completely understand the term)
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This is a beautiful retelling of Red Riding Hood, and I can't wait to share it with my students. I teach 7th and 8th grade students, and I believe that teens and YA with good comprehension skills will like this books. The fantasy is detailed and intricate.  A lot of the dialogue is in another language and not immediately translated (you have to use context clues). I think this would make it harder for low level students. In any case I loved this story.
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I thought the premise of this book was very interesting: a sort of Red Riding Hood retelling with the addition of Malaysian folklore mixed in. I am very interested in learning about folklore and mythology from other countries, so this was the initial pull for me. However, I did end up DNFing around the 23% mark, as I felt this book was too slow-paced for me. I will definitely recommend it to middle grade readers, especially since this novel deals with impacts of COVID-19, which has yet to be explored in literature, so I think many kids out there would really enjoy this.
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I was really looking forward to this book and spent a lot of time looking for an audiobook as well. Unfortunately, I didn't know what this book was about and I am finding I am unable to read it. 

Both my maternal grandmother and her sister [my great aunt] had Alzheimer's and Dementia [respectively] and my beloved mom is currently in the middle of her battle with it [and declining daily] and I found myself weeping by the end of reading 20% and knew I could not go on. 

Between the mix of this being set during the Pandemic [which had I known this was set in such a current time, I would not have requested it; add that to the Alzheimer's and well, here we are] and the Alzheimer's side story [I am not sure if the author has ever dealt personally with someone that has this insidious disease, but her handling of it also bothered me and the idea that "magic", even in a fiction/fantasy book, can "cure" someone with Alzheimer's/Dementia is cruel to those of us that know there IS NO MIRACLE and no magic that will save our loved ones and this just caused so much more pain], and a teen who is insolent and doesn't seem to care that she has broken the rules and only agrees to pay retribution and apologize once the idea of magic saving her grandmother [who she currently has little tolerance for], this was just too much for me overall. 
I am sure that many people will love this book and I am glad for them, but for 

Thank you to NetGalley, Hanna Alkaf, and HarperCollins Children's Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I’m starting off this review right off the bat by saying this book is such a fantastic middle grade book and I highly encourage everyone to read it. Hamra and the Jungle of Memories is so well written, is extremely rich in life lessons, and the cultural descriptions were absolutely exquisite – it honestly was an absolute delight to read. 2

We follow little miss Hamra – she just turned 13 years old in the middle of a pandemic and unfortunately her birthday was forgotten amidst her parent’s stress of helping out the community survive. She’s left with her sick grandmother who forgets most everything these days because of her Alzheimers. Bravely, Hamra decides that as an official teenager she can disregard the rules when venturing into the forest and challenges them one by one. She finds out that being disobedient has consequences – in this case in the form of a giant, vengeful tiger. 

Goodness, this book had everything from a little girl’s struggles on choosing the right way to pin her hijab, to amazing Malaysian food that I desperately wish I could eat right now, to the most tender of life lessons in strength, forgiveness, friendship, and love. It's a story puts a spin on Little Red Riding Hood but goes above and beyond that. There’s Malay folklore that was snuck in as little teasers as well.

This book enchanted me from the first chapter. I will admit, I never thought myself enjoying a book that had such modern aspects to it like references of pop culture and COVID-19, but it was really done so well and gently and they honestly served as writing tools in this case. I think kids that would pick up this book would relate even more to the struggles of growing up with the same social problems that are presented in the book.

Also just LOOK AT THIS COVER. Look at how beautiful! It aptly illustrates the magic and mystery that lies within its pages. The world building is immersive and the characters were just so beautiful.

My one issue about the book is at around the halfway-ish mark it did kind of drag a little for me. There was a little bit much of waiting and anticipating before getting to the next scene so I feel like it could’ve been a bit of a shorter book (I sits at 400 pages) especially considering the target audience. It took a while to pick back up again and to recapture my interest..Nonetheless, I will be reading the rest of the books by Hanna Alkaf because she is an extremely talented writer.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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What a fun story! Hamra’s adventure in the jungle swept me away. I loved the way the story is introduced. In a few places, the narrator kind of steps back and tells us things about what’s coming. Sometimes that mechanic doesn’t work for me, but it really felt like it was a good fit for this particular story.

I loved the relationship between Hamra and her grandmother. It was heartbreaking to see the divide between them caused by her memory issues and her illness. Her hopefulness when her grandmother had a moment of clarity made me cry every time. I can remember so deeply feeling the same ache with my grandmother during her illness, too.

I also really loved the dynamics in the friendship between Hamra and Ilyas, her best friend and neighbor. He’s so nerdy and sweet in all the best ways. I loved his loyalty and also the moments he pushes back on Hamra when she’s getting to be too controlling. We all need someone in our lives who can remind us to be our better selves, and he definitely does that for Hamra without rescuing her or mentoring her, just being her friend.

The way the story explores Little Red Riding Hood is really cool, too. At first glance, it may not seem to be much the same story, but as you look closer, there are a lot of similarities, so I loved the way the author created those parallels in less obvious ways. For example, Hamra lives with her grandmother, so her quest through the jungle isn’t about bringing a basket of goodies to her grandmother’s house. But for Hamra, the whole goal of the quest is to provide a cure for her grandmother’s dementia– helping her grandmother get well.

All in all, I thought this was a really clever, deeply immersive story with so much heart. I think readers who enjoyed THE PLENTIFUL DARKNESS by Heather Krassner or THE FIREBIRD SONG by Arnee Flores will love the strong characters and atmospheric storytelling of HAMRA AND THE JUNGLE OF MEMORIES.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.
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This was a fantastic tale of learning lessons. Hamra steals from a tiger in the forest and, as a result, has to embark on a journey to pay back what she took. It is a tale with reminders of Little Red Riding Hood and is rooted in magic, as fairies live in the jungle. It teaches important lessons about friendship, listening to your elders, and cherishing your precious time with loved ones and other important values.
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Beautiful and lyrical, with characters you both feel you know and want to know. Hamra's journey is relatable and touching, from her struggle with her own anger during the pandemic, her relationship with her grandmother, and her building confidence.
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This was a really good retelling and I liked it! Definitely one to pick up on release day and I think it's well written.
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This is a lush, inventive Malaysian folklore twist on the Little Red Riding Hood. As with The Girl and the Ghost, Alkaf expertly and effortlessly weaves in her culture and its myths; and manages to simultaneously dip into darkness, hard truths, and life's unfairness, while maintaining a strong, steady emotional core. Both Hamra and Ilyas (her best friend) are well-etched characters - Hamra, in particular, a perfect encapsulation of a just 13 year old in all the complexity and annoyance that characterises it. This is a coming of age story as much as it is a reckoning that we must face/live with the consequences of our actions, no matter our age. There is the added claustrophobic, slightly unreal quality of having this story be set in the midst of the early lockdown pandemic, but that makes the adventure/quest all the more urgent for the characters, all the more vicarious for readers who would well remember what those days of isolation and restrictions were like. If I had to quibble, I would say that the quest (and the individual little tasks they had to accomplish) seemed a little too linear in its execution, a little too lucky in how they progressed. And that the ending was a little too abrupt, perhaps.
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On the morning of her thirteenth birthday, Hamra doesn’t feel chosen – at least not in a good way. She’s stuck caring for her demanding grandparents, while her front-liner parents help other Malaysians through the pandemic. But when she angrily enters the jungle to fetch herbs, and flouts all the rules – ask permission, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t challenge what you can’t see – the story chooses her. Soon she and her best friend Ilya are doing a weretiger’s bidding, unravelling riddles, entering legends, and battling the supernatural. Alkaf has achieved remarkable things. She has written an exciting fantasy adventure, incorporating Malaysian folktales. She has reinterpreted the Red Riding Hood fable and trebled its power. She has created multi-dimensional and memorable characters and placed them in a world with such richly described details that they feel like the readers’ own most treasured memories. And, at the heart of the story, is a profound exploration of the tension between growth and loss shared by adolescents and the elderly. While the book is long, there is nothing extraneous or didactic. The Malaysian setting and details about Hamra's Muslim faith add immeasurable interest.  Thanks to Harper and NetGalley for an ARC in return for an unbiased review.
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Set in the Philippines at the height of the Covid pandemic, Hamra and the Jungle of Memories is a heartbreakingly beautiful story about tradition, hope, growing up, and loss. Hamra feels like her family is slipping away - her parents must work long, dangerous hours far from home and her beloved grandmother suffers from dementia that has slowly ripped her mind away. When Hamra's thirteenth birthday arrives without acknowledgement from her family, she carelessly breaks the rules of the forest and involves herself with a weretiger with his own agenda. With the help of her best friend, Harma must complete a quest that she hopes will bring her family back together. Lovely and engrossing, a great choice for kids who feel alone and adrift in the world. Hamra's story is full of hope and adventure, along with acceptance that life can be hard and scary, and the best way to face it is at the side of people we love.
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I enjoy this so much😭
It's very atmospheric I can taste the jambu. I love how this book explored places and fruits and birds around Malaysia and I'm familiar with them and can't wait for the international readers to feel them too!!!

The story set in Mayalsia, 2020, during the COVID pandemic. It's nice to see an entertaining adventure during those struggling time. 

Hamra, a 13th yo girl, ever so tired and obedient first girl in an Asian household, took something from the jungle and had to pay the price for her action. Accompanied by her neighbour/ best friend, they went on a quest with the weretiger to undo the curse. The story laced with the devastating social distancing policy, being away from parents, and taking care of grandparents (with grandma having the dementia).

What I love:
- The pace is okay. The quest woven perfectly one after another.
- ILYAS AND HAMRA RELATIONSHIP:( that's what friendship are for

Anyone who love middle grade should give this book a go💓

Thanks Netgalley and HarperCollins Children's book
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Hanna Alkaf once again delivers a gut punch of a middle grade novel. 

Hamra is stuck at home because of COVID. Since the lockdown, her parents have had to work more, leaving her to care for her grandparents, and particularly her grandmother who's battling dimentia. Her frustration hits a peak one day, and she angrily walks into the forest while ignoring the rules she's been told will keep her safe. This sets her on the path of this story: help the tiger in the forest, and he will return her grandmother's memories. 

Alkaf wonderfully updates folklore and fairy tales, finding the perfect balance between modern and timeless. I am constantly delighted by her novels, and this was yet another success. I can't wait to see what she writes next.
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It was so much fun reading this Little Red Riding Hood retelling! The Malaysian folklore and mythology touched upon were so interesting (and informative, I wasn't aware of so many of these!), and I liked the themes of friendship and forgiveness ❤️

This book is set literally in the covid-19 pandemic (more towards the beginning when we had lockdowns and all its mental and economic difficulties), and it offers glimpses into the sad changes it brought about, whilst also using that environment as a way to move the story along. I liked reading about all the intermediate tasks the MC had to do and the allies/villains they met along the way. And I so loved the MC Hamra! Her character development was done so well, and her friendships with the other characters were so cute 😭

--- ty to the author, publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy!
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Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for an advance e-arc in exchange for my honest thoughts.

When I saw that Hanna Alkaf had come out with a new book, I was very excited. I read The Girl and the Ghost as part of my reading around the world challenge and this book was said to explore more Malaysian mythology. It did that beautifully.

This story takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic and follows Hamra as she tries to take care of her grandparents. Her mother is away from home as a nurse, her father is busy, and her grandmother has dementia. Tired of being the good girl she goes and breaks the rules of the jungle dragging her friend into a quest to help the weretiger regain his humanity.

I did not like Hamra's character as much because unlike in the Girl and the Ghost she has an amazing family and friend, but is super selfish and rude. She learns from her journey, but it takes so long for her to be likable.

The rest of the characters are amazing and unique. The story starts slow, but one we are on the journey solving riddles and meeting new characters it picks up.

The exploration of memory was well done and heartbreaking. I think this is a book that you would get a very different experience out of at different ages.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and recommend it.
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I recently read The Girl and The Ghost, which i really enjoyed. So i’m excited to read Hanna Alkaf’s upcoming book!

Hamra and the Jungle of Memories, is a Malaysian folktale retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. 

It was fun at the first half of the book, 
i really enjoyed it. It was a page turner indeed. I always love Hanna writing, and the familiarity. Such as Opah’s warning to bring her food containers back, or even the rules of the Jungles. Always ask permission before you enter a strange place, my mom always reminds me to do this as well. Then surely the theme of the books about Friendship and Family is engaged.

But sadly for me, it feels dragged for the second half to the end of the book.
There’s a lot of Folktales characters, but i can’t get enough to see their characthers arcs. There is folktale character called Langsuir, and it’s only have 1 chapter then jump into another folktale. For 400pages, i think Hanna could do more for characters arcs. 

Overall i enjoyed their journey and will always read Hanna Alkaf’s books!

Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins for providing me the e-Arc
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