Berani Reviews

School Library Journal

“A genuine and thoughtful realistic novel that focuses on protecting our animals and resources….this moving middle grade novel will keep kids interested. Readers will be putting the pieces of the plot together as they turn each compelling page. Kadarusman adeptly weaves factual information about orangutans and the rainforest into the fictional story….A recommended purchase for elementary or middle school libraries. A perfect choice to give to fans of The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, and an inspiring tale in support of environmental conservation.”

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“Inspired to help orangutans facing habitat destruction for palm oil agriculture, Malia disregards her teacher’s warning and circulates a petition through her private school in Surabaya, Indonesia.

The seventh grader garners peer support, but the petition falls afoul of the government’s pro–palm oil stance, resulting in both Malia’s and her teacher’s suspensions. Meanwhile, Ari has moved to the city to work in his uncle’s restaurant and attend middle school. Ari feels guilty for his good luck and even more guilty as he looks after Ginger Juice, the sad-eyed orangutan trapped in a too-small cage at the restaurant. Ari feels helpless until he learns about Malia’s petition, which offers information about rescuing captive orangutans. All the while, Ginger Juice dreams of the jungle and her lost mother. Told through alternating viewpoints, Malia’s and Ari’s chapters detail the corruption, inequities, and prejudices that are obstacles to activism as well as the differences between Ari’s village life and Malia’s privileges…the portrayal of Malia’s experiences as the biracial daughter of an Indonesian father who has passed away and a White mother from Toronto is nuanced and well integrated into the larger plot.

A stirring introduction to the plight faced by orangutans.”

Click here to read the full review


“Seventh-graders Malia and Ari seem unlikely to cross paths. Malia has had a privileged upbringing at one of Indonesia’s best schools, and Ari is grateful to be attending a less prestigious academy in a neighboring town. But one subject binds them together: orangutans…When the kids’ lives finally overlap, a series of events change their lives—and Ginger Juice’s fate—in ways they never could’ve imagined. The expansive story, nimbly told from both human and orangutan viewpoints, gives glimpses into different class, race, and even species experiences while introducing readers to life in Indonesia and the plight of the orangutans. Ari and Malia are warm and well-intentioned guides, and it’s impossible to resist Ginger Juice’s gentle charms. A compelling call to action and a crucial reminder that, while doing what is right is not always easy, it is always worthwhile.”

CM Magazine

“Author Michelle Kadarusman deftly weaves several social justice messages through the narratives of her three protagonists while giving readers a glimpse into the standard of living for different families in Indonesia….At the end of the novel, Kadarusman includes notes to further educate her readers about orangutans and how they can be helped. Also included in the notes is a glossary that provides definitions for some of the Indonesian words found in the novel. The additional issues and storylines add richness to the narrative that brings Kadarusman’s story alive within its appropriate cultural and societal context.

I particularly appreciated how the author depicted the wide-ranging consequences of choices and activism. The author carefully suggests to readers some of the possible impacts Malia’s and Ari’s choices may have on their futures as well as on the lives of others….Kadarusman’s novel exudes the positive message that everyone can make a difference while also reminding readers that there are always consequences – good or bad – to the choices one makes and that many situations are not as black and white as we perceive….Highly Recommended

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

“Berani by Michelle Kadarusman is a perfect book for international schools. This is a novel takes place in Indonesia and is told in 3 voices… Each one of them needs courage to stand up for their convictions and follow their hearts, despite the consequences this may have. A fantastic read that shows kids (and readers of all ages) to believe in their values and that they, too, can change the world.”

Click here to read the full review

Books + Publishing

Berani is a powerful middle-grade story about animal activism set in Indonesia, by the Indonesian-Australian author of Music for Tigers. Weaving in two interconnected stories and three voices, including that of a captive orangutan, Michelle Kadarusman creates a number of moral dilemmas for the book’s protagonists and shows them working together on an orangutan rescue…The story is exciting and engaging, with strong character development as Malia and Ari learn to take agency in their own lives, making some big decisions about the world they want to live in. Berani is ideal for animal lovers or readers interested in activism and would also be a good choice for book clubs. Highly recommended for readers aged nine to 12.”

Open Book 

“Governor General’s Literary Award-nominated children’s writer Michelle Kadarusman brings her passion for the great apes to the page in her moving new middle grade novel…A book about bravery and doing what’s right, standing up for the voiceless, and what we owe one another, Berani is a powerful, bittersweet, and engrossing story that can help blow the spark of environmentalism in young readers into a flame.”

Click here to read the full review

CBC Books

“[Michelle Kadarusman’s] novels have a compelling way of unraveling complex world issues for children and teens.

Her latest middle-grade novel, Berani, is no exception. The story is told in three voices: Malia, who is determined to risk whatever is necessary as a young environmental activist; Ari, who can tell what is right but fears what that path will cost him; and Ginger Juice, a caged orangutan whose former home was turned into a palm-oil plantation.

In Berani, Kadarusman draws on the plight of orangutans while offering up a narrative steeped in empathy and inspiration for youth.”

Click here to read the full review

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre

“From memorable, courageous characters to thought-provoking themes, Berani has it all. Set in Indonesia, the latest middle-grade novel by Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Michelle Kadarusman centres around an orangutan held in captivity and the converging efforts of two seemingly disparate seventh graders…Kadarusman expertly explores how doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and what is easy isn’t always right. Berani is a multilayered, nuanced novel with a strong message: “One person can make a difference.”

Click here to read the full review

CCBC Book News

“Michelle Kadarusman has authored another fabulous novel for middle-grade students that delves into the issues that Indonesia is facing regarding their rainforests and orangutan population. A glossary, information about orangutans and an author’s note are included at the back of the book offering tips on what can be done to help. I think young readers will thoroughly appreciate and enjoy reading this latest offering by Kadarusman and perhaps be inspired to become social activists themselves.”

Kathie MacIsaac

“This author was a Governor General’s Award finalist for her 2019 book, GIRL OF THE SOUTHERN SEA, and I will pick up anything she writes. Still, the stunning cover of BERANI designed by Peggy Collins will draw readers to this story told from three different points of view that focus on environmental activism in Indonesia…These three perspectives weave together into a moving and inspiring story about standing up for what you believe…Fans of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN will especially want to add this book to their TBR shelf.”

Book Time

“Michelle Kadarusman’s latest middle grade book, Berani, was a great read…The book is told in three voices – Malia, who has had a privileged upbringing in Indonesia and uses her voice to share the plight of her country’s orangutan; Ari, who knows he is lucky to be working in his uncle’s shop so he can go to school and play on the chess club; and Ginger Juice, his uncle’s orangutan, which is being kept in a too-small cage and is growing more desolate by the day.

Each voice is unique, and each story is connected to the other…I look forward to reading it again.”

Click here to read the full review

Storytime with Stephanie

“Michelle Kadarusman always writes from the heart. The love she has for the places she writes about is evident throughout all her stories and none more than in Berani. I really appreciate how she takes readers on a journey, to the special places of her childhood and her heart but also grounds them to her current home in Canada. Readers have the opportunity to travel and learn about the wide world around them while still having the connection to home. In really enjoyed Berani’s three different voices, providing readers with three different perspectives of the lives of other living in Indonesia. Each voice was clear and it was easy to navigate the story, never forgetting who the story was centering at any given time because of each character’s clear voice.

I especially loved the discussions about Malia’s activism. There are always consequences of social activism. There is an incredible opportunity for discussion, through this story, about orangutans, habitat destruction, farming culture, livelihood and the world’s reliance on single industries. In Canada, we can link the discussions about habitat destruction and livelihood by comparing with the logging industry or the oil and gas industry.

If you enjoyed The One and Only Ivan, put Berani on your TBR list. I think you will love it even more.”

Click here to read the full review

The Book Muse

“The latest novel from Michelle Kadarusman, an Indonesian-Australian author, tackles climate change, the palm oil, industry, illegal animal trade, and the plight of orangutans in Indonesia. The story is told through three perspectives – Malia, Ari, and Ginger Juice….It is a powerful story that needs to be told, and it fits in well with all the other climate change fiction that is coming out at the moment….I love this book, and it dealt with important and heavy issues in a way that is accessible to younger readers and gives them pointers on how they can help at the back of the book. I also loved reading a story set in a country that is often not seen in the books I read and showing a culture that is vastly different….It is a story about choices and consequences, and growing up – about finding your way, knowing what is right and doing what is right, whilst working out where you stand and what you are capable of doing. I hope people love this story just as much as I did.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians 

“As someone who cares for the environment, I think Berani is a fantastic way to introduce some of our world’s problems to kids. This book touches on so many important issues: animal rights, climate change, preserving the environment, the loss of family members, and the struggles of moving. The main characters Ari, Malia, and of course Ginger Juice are brave, kind, and thoughtful. The book’s colourful descriptions and Indonesian words sprinkled throughout (a glossary is provided) really set the scene, and the way the chapters flip between the kids’ and orangutan’s perspectives is a nice touch as well. It’s a great way to start conversations about our world, and our responsibilities as inhabitants of it….Berani, which I would rate 9 out of 10 stars, is definitely worth a read!

~ Written by Bronte, Gr. 9”

Click here to read the full review

Mrs. Book Dragon 

“What an awesome book! Multiple POVs (including an animal point of view), short chapters, student activism, and doing the right thing even when it’s the hardest thing…[Michelle Kadarusman] has such a talent for creating worlds…book was a treasure to read.”

Click here to read the full review

Jill’s Book Blog

“Rating: ★★★★★…This was a touching and emotional story…it’s important to read these types of stories because they reflect real world problems. Berani is a beautiful middle grade story.”

Click here to read the full review


“Berani by [Michelle Kadarusman] captivates, inspires, and gives hope. This tale takes you to Indonesia through three perspectives interwoven with culture, environment, and character growth.”

Dr. Larry Recommends

“This fine novel, set in Indonesia is a story of activism and animal rights, choices and consequences…The three perspectives are woven together as readers enter the worlds of three conflicted, fearful  characters…the author builds readers’ compassion as they learn about the circumstances and choices of each character who bravely confront the odds of class, culture and climate change. This is a wonderful novel and my guess [is] it will be on several Canadian award lists in the year ahead.”

Click here to read the full review