on May 19, 2005
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.
on August 15, 2005
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.'
on February 4, 2006
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!
on July 30, 2005
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.
on September 12, 2014
I loved the first book of the trilogy "First They Killed My Father". And I recently finished reading this one. I love this one for different reasons. It tells of the aftermath of the War in Cambodia. Some might think if you were a refugee from Cambodia who made their way to the United States in the war's aftermath that everything would just turn out fine and dandy. And indeed in many ways it eventually did as Luong was able to start a new life with a "higher standard of living" than she likely would have had in Cambodia had she stayed there. And she does eventually reconnect with her sister Chou and many in the rest of her family as well in Cambodia. She finds her purpose in life and as a result does some good things in helping her deal with the war's pain.
But before reconnecting with her family and finding her purpose she deals with the guilt and trauma associated with PTSD survivors as well as the culture shock she encounters trying to fit in to her new country, the United States. An easy to read book coming from a woman who's native language is not English. Impressive. I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting a glimpse of what it can be like for a refugee to adjust to life in the U.S.
on August 17, 2005
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.
on November 13, 2014
I ordered "Lucky Child" immediately after finishing the author's first book about her immigration from Cambodia following the genocide of 1975-1979. Though this book can be read on its own, you will have a much more complete picture of Loung's childhood experience in Cambodia if you read "First They Killed My Father". "Lucky Child" picks up when Loung is in high school in Sacramento. Though she is trying to put the horrors of the past behind her, she has occasional flashbacks and moments of terror. She writes "...in the quiet recesses of my mind, the Khmer Rouge lurks and hovers in dark alleys, waiting for me at the bend of every corner. No matter how far I run, I cannot escape the dread they have followed me to America."
Loung has lost touch with her closest sister in Cambodia, Chou, who married young and had children and has struggled to find prosperity and happiness in the deeply damaged country. Loung has always felt somewhat guilty about the fact that she was chosen to accompany her eldest brother to the refugee camp in Thailand where they were later sponsored for immigration to a small town in Vermont. Since Loung was the youngest surviving sibling, the family felt that she would have the best chance of getting an education and adapting to life in America. However, Loung's brother and his wife cling to Cambodian traditions and expect Loung to do so also. She chafes at their restrictions, hides the details of her background from her best friend in the new high school, and even changes her name to an American name - all so that she can blend in and find acceptance in her new country.
Loung's brother Meng, had visited the family in Cambodia several times and sent them money which helped raise them from abject poverty. At first, Loung wasn't interested in returning to Cambodia, but eventually, Loung's brother organized a trip for them to return to a family reunion. Though their lives are very different by then, Loung reunites with her closest sister Chou. With all the siblings together for the first time in 18 years, the family honors their dead ancestors, while striving to put the past behind them.
In her matter of fact and clear writing style, Loung allows to understand so much of Cambodia history and culture. Her ability to put the grim occurrences of the genocide in perspective and to find a way to move on and thrive is commendable. I look forward to reading her next book which starts when she's in college.
on March 30, 2013
This is the 2nd book in the series that I bought online immediatly after returning from a life changing trip to Cambodia. I picked up the first book, First They Killed My Father, at a book store in Phnom Phen a few blocks from the White Mansion Hotel, part of the old US Embassy, where I was staying. I was looking for something good to read on the flight home that would also give me some insight into what the genocide in the 1970s was really like for the people of Cambodia. This book was exactly what I was looking for and was beautifully written. I would recommend these books to anyone! I have never read such a page turner! I read the entire first book on my flight back back home and was thrilled to find this 2nd book in the series on Amazon. This book is just as much of a page turner and shows Loung Ung's life growing up in the US compared side by side with her sister's life back in Cambodia. Loung Ung is a great author and I even got to meet her at a book reading, my first and only, at a book store in Harvard Square shortly after I read her 3rd book, Lulu in the Sky. Read the books in order and you won't regret it! The books are beautifully written!
on April 30, 2006
Loung Ung's fascinating second book, Lucky Child, picks up the story that began with her first memoir, First They Killed My Father, and with both books I found it impossible to put them down once I'd begun reading. Lucky Child contrasts life for Loung as a refugee in America, with her sister Chou's life in rural Cambodia, and it's a revealing and moving comparison. Loung, with lasting feelings of guilt for those she'd left behind, found it difficult to fit in, whilst Chou, resigned to her fate, displayed the resilience and inner strength that is apparent in so many of her fellow countrymen and women.
I found two parts of this remarkable book particularly poignant, the heart-rending death of three-year-old Kung and the reunion between Chou and her brother Meng after a separation of eleven years. These passages were hard to read. Whilst the eventual meeting of Loung and Chou is an awkward affair, the tale of their brother Kim's escape from Cambodia to France is enthralling. The book tells a tale that underscores the importance of the bond between family members, the sheer strength of the human spirit and will to endure and most of all, it's a story of two sisters who have survived and flourished against all odds. Loung Ung has a special talent at storytelling. I recommend this book without hesitation.
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.