“Probably to many in the world, this patch of earth was just another village among many small, dusty villages. And at first glance, like many small villages, it looked impoverished, crowded, and populated with thatched roof huts built on wooden stilts. But if visitors were to stay, if they learned to navigate around half-naked toddlers, squawking chickens, wandering pigs, and barking dogs to our psah, our outdoor market, and meet the people who called this place home, they would change their minds.”
A few months ago I read and reviewed Loung Ung’s excellent and heartbreaking memoir, First They Killed My Father. A refugee from Cambodia’s killing fields, Ung was a “lucky” member of her family, one of only a handful that were able to emigrate to the United States. As is revealed in Lulu in the Sky, Ms. Ung still had many obstacles to overcome in order to make peace with her past.
As you can tell from the first paragraph, Loung Ung has a gift for writing and story-telling. There is such a terrific sense of place in her writing, which is rich, warm and even humorous at times. Lulu in the Sky is the continuation of Ms. Ung’s story, beginning in her college years, when she tries hard to be the independent American girl. Unfortunately, her harrowing past continues to cause her to shy away from getting too close to people. Honest and forthright, Loung Ung’s memoir is an excellent look at one young woman’s journey from fear and alienation to courageous independence and finally, love.
This book is important not just for Ms. Ung’s personal story, but to make everyone aware of the horrors and after-affects of war. Given her talent, I sincerely hope she continues writing. Perhaps historical fiction will enable her to continue to be a voice for the millions who live in fear as a result of war.