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Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (April 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060733942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060733940
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In her second memoir, Ung picks up where her first, the National Book Award–winning First They Killed My Father, left off, with the author escaping a devastated Cambodia in 1980 at age 10 and flying to her new home in Vermont. Though she embraces her American life—which carries advantages ranging from having a closet of her own to getting a formal education and enjoying The Brady Bunch—she can never truly leave her Cambodian life behind. She and her eldest brother, with whom she escaped, left behind their three other siblings. This book is alternately heart-wrenching and heartwarming, as it follows the parallel lives of Loung Ung and her closest sister, Chou, during the 15 years it took for them to reunite. Loung effectively juxtaposes chapters about herself and her sister to show their different worlds: while the author's meals in America are initially paid for with food stamps, Chou worries about whether she'll be able to scrounge enough rice; Loung is haunted by flashbacks, but Chou is still dodging the Khmer Rouge; and while Loung's biggest concern is fitting in at school, Chou struggles daily to stay alive. Loung's first-person chapters are the strongest, replete with detailed memories as a child who knows she is the lucky one and can't shake the guilt or horror. "For no matter how seemingly great my life is in America... it will not be fulfilling if I live it alone.... [L]iving life to the fullest involves living it with your family."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Ung's autobiographical First They Killed My Father, 2000) chronicled her harrowing childhood under Pol Pot's genocidal regime, which claimed the lives of her mother, father, and two sisters. In an essential companion timed for release on the thirtieth anniversary of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge takeover, Ung unflinchingly continues her memoir with her arrival in Vermont alongside her sister-in-law and brother, who, able to "borrow enough gold to take only one of his siblings with him," chose his tough youngest sister as the "lucky child." Ung agonized over everyone she left behind, but especially regretted her 15-year separation from her last surviving sister, Chou. Here she tells their parallel life stories, effectively interleaving her own narrative of an '80s, valley-girl adolescence (laced with posttraumatic episodes) with chapters about Chou's growth to adulthood amid threats of land mines and Khmer Rouge raids. By daringly (and remarkably successfully) assuming her sister's point of view, Ung brings third- and first-world disparities into discomfiting focus and gracefully dramatizes the metaphorical joining together of her haunted past with her current identity as a privileged Cambodian American. When the narratives fuse at the sisters' long-awaited reunion, their clasping of hands throws wide the floodgates to tamped-down memories--a cathartic release that readers will tearfully, gratefully share. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Author, lecturer, and activist, Loung Ung has dedicated much of her life to promoting equality and human rights in her native land and worldwide. In recognition of her work, The World Economic Forum selected Loung as one of the "100 Global Youth Leaders of Tomorrow."

Loung's memoir, First They Killed My Father: a Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (HarperCollins 2000)is a national bestseller and recipient of the 2001 Asian/Pacific American Librarians' Association award for "Excellence in Adult Non-fiction Literature", and has been published in Khmer, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and other languages. She has appeared widely on news programs and other media. She is also the author of Lucky Child and Lulu in the Sky, both published by HarperCollins. she is now working on a novel.

Today, Loung has made over 30 trips back to Cambodia. When not working and traveling, she enjoys eating fried crickets and riding her tandem bike with her husband Mark. Together, they are partners/owners of a trio of restaurants and microbrewery--the Belgian Bier Markt, Bar Cento, and Market Garden Brewery--in Cleveland, Ohio.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This a beautifully written book and I enjoyed it very much.
Lisa
It's all her story, but anyone with a brain...and a heart...can see its connection to his or her own life.
Greg Robertson
What a sad but inspirational story of resilience and the force of love between siblings.
jackie r

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By G. Griffith on May 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Ung has once again given us a powerful rendering of what it means to survive. Her first book, First They Killed My Father" was extraordinary for its ability to translate the experience of the Cambodian genocide for a public disconnected to the realities of that war.

Her second book is no less a tour de force, giving us an eye into the life of a young girl from a radically different culture (and history of deprevation) trying to come to terms with this American life. She does it remarkably well, with candor and grace.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Ahlberg on August 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As I read 'Lucky Girl,' I was amazed that Loung Ung had the courage to write such an honest account of her feelings and experiences following her arrival in the USA. She paints a portrait of herself with shadings of the human faults and frailties that we all carry within us. But would we have the courage to pen the less admirable aspects of ourselves for all the world to know?

Several years ago I traveled to Phnom Penh. Reading Ms Ung's first book after the visit, I was haunted with vivid pictures of the Ung's family living such a comfortable life in the city and then being plunged into the darkness of genocide. I recalled thinking that the streets I wandered, the movie theater, the markets were places that, in my mind, had strangely witnessed the Ung's family pleasures and then the insanity of the Khmer brutality.

In 'Lucky Child' Loung Ung reminds us that although we might consider this unspeakable chapter of human history as 'over,' her family and thousands of other rural Cambodians live with the fear of landmines and the reality of vestiges of the Khmer threat every day.

Should you want to learn about these courageous people in the context of someone to be admired for amazing candor, read 'Lucky Child.'
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joe E. Grant on July 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book very much. I heard an interview with the author on our local NPR radio station and bought the book the next day. The discriptions of her feelings and the contrasts between her life in Vermont and her sisters in Cambodia were moving and very artfully done. This is a must read for all of us who sometimes take for granite the freedoms we enjoy and a true picture of courage and faith.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kirk W. Leichner on February 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Last year, I picked up First They Killed My Father while I was in Cambodia. I had already read Chanrithy Him's - When Broken Glass Floats. Both of these books are very powerful and must reads in the genre of the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979. Lucky Child is a book that takes place in a completely different world. At the end of "First They", we see Loung heading for a new life in America and we all give a sigh of relief.

Lucky Child goes in depth into the difficulties of a minority trying to adapt to white American society. All the while, Loung has everything she experienced in Cambodia continually gnawing at her spirit - the loss of her family being the most difficult for her. As the author, she is our focus, but in Lucky Child, we also get a very good look at her older sister Chou and what life was like in Cambodia in the years following the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

This book is powerful and tough to put down. It tugs at the heartstrings and provokes deeper thought into our own lives and values. Lucky Child is one of the finer books that I have read in some time and I highly reccomend it to anyone who is interested in Cambodia, the peoples, customs and landscapes of that beautiful country, and human nature, suffering, and the will to succeed. This is a book not to be missed!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Greg Robertson VINE VOICE on January 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you're a human being, you should read this inspiring and moving book. Yes, it will tug at your heartstrings and enliven your empathy, but it will also make it crystal clear how a stridently divisive political and social climate - worse than, but politically not unlike America today - can push people into doing the unthinkable to their neighbors, while leaving others asking, "How could this have happened?" It's all her story, but anyone with a brain...and a heart...can see its connection to his or her own life.

Loung Ung's writing is an elegant and eloquent, yet down-to-earth style that you won't be able to pull away from. In "Lucky Child," she again demonstrates her masterful storytelling ability and delivers a unique, and often heartbreaking, look inside another culture. And our own.

This book will make you think, make you feel, and, hopefully, encourage you to act the next time you hear the words "abuse" or "genocide." Definitely a must-read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karey on September 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read Lucky Child before First They Killed My Father. Although I had her first book on my shelf, I needed reasurance that everything would be "ok" in the end. It also prepared me for what I would read in the first book. I'm not recommending that you do so, but I'm a very sensitive person so that is what I did. So let me tell you, I think about both these books on a daily basis. I read books one after another and fairly quick, so it is rare that a book will stay with me for months after I read it. The courage Loung Ung has is astonishing. She is not just someone with a story to tell, but an amazing writer. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Nickels on August 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What a great book and sequel to First They Killed My Father. As a sister to three young children adopted from Cambodia, this book gave great insight as to what their birth families went through under Pol Pot and why they would have given these children up for adoption. This book helps the reader understand that even after the refugees found their way out of Cambodia and the citizens remaining found a new life, the horrors of this war were still with them. A very touching book.
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