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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 October 2015
This is a heart rending account of love and loss and of the horrendous consequences of the Khymer Rouge revolution in Cambodia during the second half of the 1970s. Through the eyes of Loung Ung, who was 5 years old when the Khymer Rouge force-evacuated the cities, you cannot help but feel for the people who suffered so much loss, tragedy, intense hardship and starvation.

Eventually, as refugees, Luong and her brother reached safety and a new life in the United States, although most of her family had to remain behind - reading this will open anyone's eyes to the plight of people desperate to get away from war and from the loss of everything they once knew and loved.

This is a very emotional, painful book to read, and I am very glad I can only imagine what it must have been like in those times. Luong Ung is a remarkable author, a true survivor from utter horror, and an inspiration
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on 4 March 2016
This is such an amazing book, everyone should read it. The first two chapters are slow as she describes her life in the city, but that sets the scene as you realise what kind of life they are used to. I think everyone will be able to relate to this book in one way or another and you will see your family members in her family members. I felt so sad reading parts of this book and other times I had to cover the adjacent page to stop myself reading ahead because I was so keen to know what happened. I read this book in three sittings, I would love to read it again but because I know what happens to everyone, it might make for difficult reading the second time. My advice is not to look at the photos in the middle of the book until the end, as it gives away what happens. I bought this second hand and found the pages to be quite faded even though it was described in good quality, I would advise you buy new, I think I might buy a new version of this book as I am worried about the quality of the book I have. Overall, the book is amazing and moving and made me fearful for her and her family. It made me also think about people currently suffering war or having to leave their countries and experience hardship and realise that it is something that I would never be able to do, never mind at the authors age of around 5 when the war started. I do not think anyone will regret reading this book.
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on 22 March 2017
The line, "Hell is the impossibility of reason", from Platoon, kept running through my mind as I read this!

This is a story of war, a story of starvation, a story of suffering, but above all a story of a family! A daughter's story of her family and her love for her father, for her mother and for her siblings.

I thank the author for reminding me how the people we love matter more than anything else.

I highly recommend this book!
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on 22 November 2015
I recently went to Cambodia and witnessed the killings fields and S-21. Loung Ung story is one of the most heartbreaking stories I've read. There are millions for stories of survivors that we can read and I have met Chum Mey and bou Meng and have read their survival stories. These two were tortured in S-21 and there stories were fascinating to read. Loung Ung story I have to say is brilliantly written and you really go through the journey of what she went through. It's a must read and really puts into perspective of how lucky we are, and how much suffering the people of Cambodia went through. Must read
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on 2 February 2014
I downloaded this to read whilst I was travelling in Cambodia and am so glad I did.

It's harrowing in parts, grim in others and will raise a lump in the most hardened of throats. It also helped me understand the Khmer people a bit better whilst I was there.

If you've visited the country then you'll understand what I mean when I say they are kind, brilliant, sassy and generous but there's an underlying distrust and sadness too. It's said that the entire population suffers from PSTD, even those born after the Khmer Rouge. I can believe it. It started with the Khmer Rouge and the same rhetoric (that you will read in the book) is being spouted now by those battling to take control of Cambodia once again. The trials are still ongoing. The Government is still corrupt. It is far from over for Cambodia.

A must read for anyone visiting Cambodia. And for anyone else who wants to 'remember'.
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on 4 August 2015
I bought this while travelling in Cambodia and would suggest anyone contemplating on visiting the magical country should try to read it. I'm sure there are many other books on the time of the Khmer Rouge which are far more graphic or explain the politics etc on greater detail, however this memoir from the point of view of a child was poignant and effecting. The Khmer/Cambodian people are amazing and I was humbled by their horrific experience and their ability to move forwards. They've not forgotten, but it doesn't define them either.
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on 13 October 2011
This is a personal history of the author during the most atrocious years of the Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia (1975-1979). I found the greatest value in the book to be her first hand experience of countless episodes of cruelty and sheer madness. She tell those stories calmly and without deep political analysis, as if she did not really understand what was going on. Which, of course, to a large extent did not, as she was just a child! But this, far from being a weakness, is a strength of the book.

Many books have been written on the politics of the Khmer Rouge regime, and many more will be written as more and more evidence becomes available. However this book will never be out of date, because true first hand experience as candidly seen through the eyes of a child will always be relevant, interesting, and shocking!

I agree with some other reviewers that a weak point in the book is the parts where she admits she does not know what happened and uses her imagination to fill the gap. maybe she could have left those parts out altogether. However this in no way detracts from the overall instructional value of the book.
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on 13 July 2016
I chose to read this book because of my background and it did not disappoint, stories are just as my mother told and provided a vivid description of how a vulnerable little girl was slowly but surely moulded into something beyond her understanding. I hope that this book can open the eyes of many to the brutality that ruined this beautiful country, it may no longer bleed but the scars are still present
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on 2 August 2009
Unlike some of the other reviewers I have not been to Cambodia, but this book is so well written I had no difficulty imagining the place. Loung Ung begins with the simple observation that this is the story of her family in the mid to late 1970's in Cambodia (through the bloody Pol Pot/ Khmer Rouge regime) and it would be your story if you had been in Cambodia in those years.

Loung Ung is between the ages of 5 and 10 during the period of the book which is about her and her families life in Phnom Penh before the Khmer Rouge and then the sudden fleeing, hiding, fear, starvation, hard labour, separation of the family and partial reunification. The horrors of what man can do the one another.

Perhaps due to the fact that the author spent her teen years and beyond in the USA so can understand a foreign audience and add the small, unobstrusive remarks about Khmer culture I found myself completely engaged by her family. Loung Ung is able to be so articulate about her loss, her anger with her own family members, her adoration of her father, her hatred of the Khmer Rouge - you do not feel this is santized or sensationalised.

I am the same age as the author and one of my earlier memories is a "Blue Peter"(a long running children's television show for you non-Brits) for the refugees after the end of the Pol Pot regime, with photos of rooms full of skulls and the fear of hearing they killed anyone with glasses. Perhaps that added to my sense of connection in a small way.

Yes it made me cry, but I was picking up the book to find out what happenend next any free moment I could. I definitely want to read the sequel.
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on 1 March 2017
I read this book while travelling Cambodia and I couldn't put it down. It's still shocking to this day what happened during the Cambodian genosode in 1975. This is a truely heart wrenching account of one girl and how the war stole her life. Something that happened when some of the people that are reading this review would of been alive. History should never be forgotten. It's teaches us so much. This book needs to be read by all.
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