Survival is not “and they lived happily ever after.” At the end of First They Killed My Father, which I reviewed in May, Loung Ung, her sister Chou, and three brothers had survived the years of slaughter of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge. Vietnamese forces had captured much of the country and the Khmer Rouge had fled into isolated areas. The family, minus their parents and two sisters who had died, still faced many hardships.
Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind by Loung Ung continues the story. Ten year old Loung escapes with her brother Meng and his wife to a refugee camp in Thailand, where they stay until they are sponsored by a church in Vermont. They move into an apartment over a small shop, her brother and sister-in-law get jobs, and she starts school. Her sister Chou remains in a village in Cambodia with an uncle, hauling water, gathering firewood, and tending to her younger cousins, always afraid that the Khmer Rouge or the Vietnamese will harm her.
One of the most incredible stories in the book tells how her brother Kim escaped Cambodia, hid out in Thailand, and was smuggled into France.
While Lucky Child is not as intense a book as First They Killed My Father, it is still a compelling story about longing and reunion, that reminds us that wounds do not easily heal. It is a good book for adults and teens.
Ung, Loung. Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 0060733942
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