Saturday, December 13, 2014

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung

From Goodreads:

Chronicles the brutality of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, from the author's forced ''evacuation'' of Phnom Penh in 1975 to her family's subsequent movements from town to town and eventual separation.

I dated a guy in college who served his LDS mission in Cambodia. His occasional comments and recollections constituted 90% of my knowledge of Cambodia. The other 10% came from watching Tomb Raider (which had a few scenes filmed there).

I'm always a little embarrassed that I know so little about other countries and world events so when this title popped up as recommended in my Overdrive app I requested it. 

The book is narrated from a child's point of view but I couldn't help but read it as a mother. These kinds of books devastate me since having children. I can't stop putting myself in the shoes of Loung's mother, desperately trying to keep her children alive while slowly watching them waste away from hunger and overwork. When the father was killed I bawled great big tears onto my nursing baby's head. I can't imagine being in that situation and losing Aaron. The women who survived the Khmer Rouge were made of stronger stuff than I am.

This book is absolutely phenomenal, even if it led to me squeezing Emmy until she squirmed while I promised her she would never know that kind of pain or hunger. Reading the cold facts of the Cambodian genocide doesn't do justice to the horror and privations experienced by the people. I think books like this should be required reading in high school- when you learn about the events you should also learn about the people.