Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mother and the Tiger by Dana Hut Lim

Mother and the Tiger: A Memoir of the Killing Fields

Words can't really begin to describe this book. Growing up I would hear about the Vietnam war but it seemed a long time ago and my knowledge of it sketchy. And while I distinctly remember the phrase Khmer Rouge I had no idea of what or who they were and what Cambodia experienced during this time.

What. An. Eye opener.

When the Khmer Rouge rounded up the author's village no one knew what to expect or where they were going. They ended up in a series of jungle work camps "supervised " by the cruel Khmer Rouge 'leaders ' (mere boys of 12 or 13 with AK-47s, a lust for power and no conscience.)

During the rule of the Khmer Rouge 25% of Cambodians perished in what came to be called "the killing fields". Survival came down to a matter of personal grit, determination, ingenuity,  chance, and will to survive. It is amazing that of the 8 people in the author's family, 7 survived.

The story is so well written and so mindblowingly amazing that for two days I couldn't stop reading it. Every chance I got my nose was buried in it. It made me appreciate every grain of rice that passes my lips and just filled me to overflowing with compassion for my fellow neighbors in this our global village. I have never been reduced to eating cockroaches, rats or tarantulas; nor have i ever had to bathe my infected eyes with urine. We in the western world have NO IDEA.....none.

I am aghast that I never knew this happened. I feel like this book should be standard literature for every highschool student.

Even though the book is primarily a "trials and tribulations" kind of read it is not without some humor. I especially enjoyed seeing Dana's first hand reactions to technology when she arrived in Australia and her reaction to Western food. Classic! Loved it!

To wrap it up, I'll leave you with a quote. It takes place after arrival in Australia when she was questioned by her classmates about 'what it was really like'....

"I told as best I could what it was like to live in Cambodia during the years of Khmer Rouge reign....I could say that real events had been far worse than any film could possibly portray but I could not make them feel it....I could not show them what it was really like, and in truth I did not really try. No one should ever have to witness such depravity. If I could somehow make them see they would have hated me forever, and they would have been right to. They would never have recovered from the experience. I never have."

 Many thanks to NetGalley for my free ecopy to review

SEX: one rape (not described but mentioned in passing)
VIOLENCE : moderate but not gratuitous or intended to horrify.
PROFANITY : Mild and mostly according to dictionary definition. Not oaths.

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