Meet the author – Loung Ung. First, let me just mention her beautiful smile despite the horrific trauma that marks her childhood. Ung was born in Cambodia and experienced one of world history’s most deadly genocide at the age of five. Today, she is living happily with her husband in Cleveland, Ohio.
In memory of the two million people who perished under the khmer rouge regime.– Loung Ung
Initially, I did not have much interest in reading and found this book lying around the house. I thought to myself that I should try to read a book for my own enjoyment for once. What caught my attention first was her writing style. Certainly, this is an important value for an author. Yet, I thought that her way of sharing this experience was in some ways different from other authors. More specifically, the simplistic wording of her writing style enables her to convey her message more clearly. Regardless of the simplicity, what made this style of writing incredibly powerful was the fact that the reader can still sense the emotion from each scene.
Adding on the simplicity of her writing style, this is quite important and an effective way to draw more attention since it is free of jargon. I was amazed by how strong her descriptions of virtually everything happening in the story was full of grace even when the scenes were gory. The grace that she holds in her writing is compelling to me personally as I found myself picking up my pace and urged me to keep flipping the pages. I would say that the combination of her simplistic and graceful tone of voice pulled out the immense powers of her story altogether. Though the pain that she went through as written in the book was inexplicably excruciating, her way of writing further convinced me to shed tons of tears while reading. I usually do not cry when I read books. Or at least, I have not felt as much emotional pain for the character from most books that I have read so far. That is how much this book impacted me.
As mentioned previously on this post, this is a memoir of her experience in the civil war at the age of five. That is a young age. Some people can still dig far into their memories at around this age, but it is still a rare thing to remember all the small details. From this logic, critiques of this book rose to point out that perhaps this book is not being entirely accurate.
My response to this critique in particular would be that I do agree to some extent, but I think that the point of the book would be dismissed with that opinion in mind. I agree that it is nearly impossible to remember in such detail. Calling it impossible might sound a bit extreme there, but you would understand what I am saying if you opened the book and just read five pages. I promise you will be captivated by her use of words to express her traumatic experience during the genocide.
On the other hand, I think it is kind of ignorant for anybody to say something like that. It is not like we have experienced the same thing or anything close to that. In fact, this genocide was beyond inhumane. At that age, any traumatic experience would affect the child and stick to them even if they believe that they have grown out of it. It will remain in your subconscious somehow. So, I would not make that kind of general assumption that the war was dramatized in the book.
To conclude my thoughts on this book I just recently finished within two days of reading, I realized that humanity can be easily lost in just a snap of a finger. Even if all the gruesomely described things are not completely accurate, that does not make the Cambodian genocide any less horrible. The author has every right to claim what she has experienced as a child.
This book is not simply one of the books I want to mark off as read in my summer book list. I would even feel ignorant and immature to see this book in any way close to being just one of those random books I wanted to add onto my list. It opened my eye in so many ways. I may sound dramatic here, but I can assure you that the book would most likely change the way you view humanity.
We are talking about a genocide here. There is no way that anybody, no matter what age, can fully describe to the audience how they felt. Regardless, the reader is easily able to comprehend the author’s pain. But one can never fully attain that comprehension of the insanely painful experiences of the victims. Not only have I learned more about this author’s personal experience, but I also gained deeper respect and gratefulness for what I have right now.
Lastly, I was able to get a better understanding of the terrifying experience of losing everything. Absolutely everything within seconds. And truthfully, you might not see that coming anytime soon, but it does not mean that the chances are zero that it would ever happen. Actually, I was cleaning out my shelves since I used to not have any interest in reading. I cleared out pretty much EVERYTHING. No one has told me about this book before, but I already felt pretty convinced that I should keep this book in case. It is quite odd and interesting that this book was the only one left. One thing for sure, though, is that I am grateful that I picked this book up and learned so much from a 200 page memoir.
This may sound far out of reach from what I am about to say next, but I sincerely believe that it is important for others to read this book even just for your self-improvement/development. More broadly speaking, pick out any book that you see on your shelf because you never know what lesson you will learn and the knowledge you would gain after you close the book to an end.
Netflix film by angelina jolie
In 2017, Angelina Jolie directed and produced this film of the memoir. It is available on Netflix and is a 2h 16m film.