Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Review: First They Killed My Father

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung is the tale of a young girl and the Khmer Rogue. Pol Pot, The Killing Fields, and the most tragic time in Cambodia's history is the story of Loung Ung's childhood.

I read a lot of memoirs. A LOT. I love the concept of them, but unfortunately, not every memoir is created equal. It seems there came a time when memoirs got trendy because of a few books (I'm not pointing any fingers here), and then anytime someone had an interesting/strange/unusual life story, someone was there to publish their memoir, whether or not the writing was actually good. Unfortunately, I have read many of those memoirs: It's a great story, but the way it is told is so excrutiating, it's like pulling teeth to get through the book, and you feel like it was a chore to invest all that time and effort. 

Then, there are the memoirs that are so beautifully crafted, that you are sucked into the world of the author, you live every moment with them, you are exhilarated at their highs and devastated at their lows, and when it's all over you wish the book had never ended. And Then They Killed My Father by Luong Ung is one of the latter. 

I was definitely interested in learning more about this time in history, as I certainly didn't know as much as I should before reading the book. I remember hearing the term "The Killing Fields" once in high school and then got a crash course one day in my History of the Vietnam War class as an undergrad, but it was not something I would consider myself well-versed in. I looked forward to the book for this reason, and hoped that this book would deliver information in a readable way. This is exactly what you get with this book.

While the book obviously revolves around horrific acts, it is still written as the tale of a young girl -- it is not sterile, removed, and fact-driven. It is a personal narrative, and it is so well-written that I was in love with the young narrator in a few short paragraphs. To then follow this girl I loved through the most brutal moments is difficult, to say the least, but you are willing to do it because you want to see how she emerges. 

This is a book for history lovers, memoir lovers, and anyone who is willing to invest their emotions in a good book.

If you want to read what other reviewers had to say about this book, as well as the next two books in the series, Lulu in the Sky: A Daughter of Cambodia Finds Love, Healing, and Double Happiness and Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind click HERE.

I was provided a copy of this book through TLC Book Tours but was not compensated for this review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I totally know what you mean about the memoir trend. I'm glad to see that this book both tells an amazing story AND contains fantastic writing - a double treat!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.


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