Randall Ng, a middle school counselor, isn’t the kind, compassionate man most people expect someone who works with children and teenagers to be. He’s brash, threatening and finds his students’ problems to be amusing. Instead of sympathizing with these children during arguably the toughest period of their lives, he yells and swears at them with no regrets, sometimes confronting them in their own homes. But with students in gangs, low-income families and troubling backgrounds, sometimes a little tough love is necessary.
Ng’s account of an average middle school day starts slowly and a bit awkwardly, but once his students enter the picture, their personalities and individual stories are what make Hawaiian Sunrise to Sunset: A Middle School Counselor’s Diary of a Working Day shine. An easy read whose merits lie with its portrayals rather than its writing, this autobiography has its fair share of poignant moments. One of the most affecting sections deals with a group of GT (gifted & talented) kids who visit the severely mentally and physically challenged as a lesson to appreciate their own gifts, ones that others are not lucky enough to have.
Though Ng rants at times and can be unnecessarily repetitive and defensive, Sunrise exposes the youth of Hawai`i, though troublesome, as more than a lost cause.
Outskirts Press 2011