This is the story of the Cambodia genocide that happened a mere 30 years ago. Since I am going to be in Cambodia and specifically wanted to see the Killing Fields of Phnom Penh, I felt that it was important to better educate myself about the subject. Loung Ung tells the true story of the the tragic events that her family was a part of from 1975 to 1979. I have to be honest – this was a hard read. I had to get out Kleenex more than once as it was so moving and completely depressing. However – the story needed to be told.
Loung wrote the book from a child’s perspective and voice – which made it even more gripping. Loung was 5 years old when her family of 9 fled from Phnom Penh and left their middle class life behind to run from Pol Pot, starve, and work as peasants, and perish. As a young girl, all of these experiences manifested itself into a deep anger and hatred that she expressed very vividly in the book. Her childhood and her family were taken away from her.
“Kim tells me that from now on I have to watch out for myself. Not only am I never to talk to anyone about our former lives, but I’m never to trust anyone either. It is best if I just stop talking completely so I won’t unintentionally disclose information about our family. To talk is to bring danger to the family. At five years old, I am beginning to know what lonliness feels like, silent and alone and suspecting that everyone wants to hurt me.”
If you are prepared for a tear-jerker, then I recommend the book – especially if you are traveling to the area anytime in the future. It brings you up to date on some of the torrid history of Cambodia.