Title: First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
Author: Loung Ung
Publish Date: April 4, 2006 by Harper Perennial
# of Pages: 238
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(From Goodreads) From a childhood survivor of the Camdodian genocide under the regime of Pol Pot, this is a riveting narrative of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her family, and their triumph of spirit.
One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung’s family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed.
Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung’s powerful story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet miraculously sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality.
Rating (1-10, 10 is exceptional)
Quality of Writing – 8
Pace – 9
Enjoyability – 9
Insightfullness – 10
Ease of Reading – 9
Voice Acting – 9
Overall Rating – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
In the harrowing book First They Killed My Father, Loung Ung recounts her time under the war regime of Pol Pot. Despite the civil war, genocide, and starvation, Loung Ung refuses to be cowed into submission. Because of her passionate spirit and a desperate drive to keep living, Loung survives.
This book was beautifully written, though the details are horrifying and very reminiscent of a Holocaust survivor’s memoir. The atrocious acts Loung Ung endures are heartbreaking. It’s so hard to come to terms with the fact that people do such horrible things to other people.
The pace of the book is swift. The book opens in Phnom Penh, where Loung lived a life of leisure and privilege as the daughter of a high-ranking government officer. Where some families lived in little more than shacks, Loung’s family had an apartment with a maid. As the war takes a turn for the worse, Loung’s life is turned upside down. The events unfold quickly, and they’re easy to follow as the family moves from one place to the next.
I enjoyed this book as much as one can say they enjoy this sort of book. It was riveting but also desperately sad. I felt completely immersed in Loung’s world and it was painful as she was separated from her family and friends. The book doesn’t hold back as it covers all of the nitty gritty details of starvation and prisoner abuse.
The narrator in this audiobook was wonderful. She was engaging and emotional in all the right places. Her voice was able to capture the innocence of a child perfectly. I enjoyed listening to her weave Loung Ung’s tale.
If you’re looking for a memoir to read, this one is well worth the read. If you’re sensitive to stories of abuse and acts of war, then be wary before picking up this book.
How much do you know about Cambodian Civil War? Do you enjoy reading non-fiction books? What was the last audiobook you listened to?
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