Apr 26, 2012

Book Review: Lucky Child by Loung Ung

"...I have come to accept that I might never see Chou again. I know that somewhere in Cambodia, the remainder of our large family is waiting to join Meng and me in America, but missing them has become too difficult. And so I've begun to think of myself as the only sister, even though I remember being part of a big family. That life is gone and no matter how I wish it, it will never be so again." (ch.16)

Title: Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind
Author: Loung Ung
Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 11, 2006), paperback
Genre: memoir

Comments: To the general reader, the importance of this memoir by Loung Ung, the second of three books on Cambodia and life after the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese invasion, lies not only in its historical value but in the heartfelt story of a family destroyed and separated by war.

We see life through the eyes of a young 10 year-old-girl who is chosen by her oldest brother Meng to leave Cambodia with him and his wife, escape to Thailand, and then travel as refugees to Vermont, U.S.A. Loung is haunted by the memory of her older sister Chou, whom she left behind, and the two brothers also left in Cambodia. She also is haunted by the memory of her parents, both killed by the Khmer Rouge while she was still a young child in Cambodia.

 Lucky Child is the story of the two sisters, living and growing up in two different countries - the U.S.A. and Cambodia, about their eventual reunion, and their experiences in between the time they were separated as children and the time they were reunited in Cambodia as adults.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book and the others, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers and Lulu in the Sky to anyone wanting to know more about the period 1975-1979, when Cambodia was turned into the Killing Fields under the Khmer Rouge who murdered millions of its own people in order to establish their power. The book is also a story of survival, immigration and adjustment of refugees to life in the United States, eventual reconciliation of Loung's family, and their lives after a war of devastation.

About the author: Loung Ung was born to an affluent Cambodian father and Chinese mother, and was only 5 years old when the Khmer Rouge stormed into her native city of Phnom Penh. Four years later, in one of the bloodiest episodes of the 20th century, some two million Cambodians – out of a population of seven million – had died at the hands of the infamous Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. Among the genocide victims were both Loung’s parents, two sisters, and 20 other relatives.

Today, Loung has made over 30 trips back to Cambodia. As an author, lecturer, and activist, she has dedicated 20 years to promoting equality, human rights, and justice in her native land and worldwide. To find out more about her work, visit her at http://loungung.com/

You can see the complete tour and other reviews of this book, thanks to TLC Book Tours.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book for the tour.


  1. This does sound like a very heartrending tale of a family that was torn apart by their eventual migration from one place to another, and the quote that you provided gives me a great sense of the writing, which sounds elegant and affecting. Great review today. I need to read this one when I can!

  2. I love memoirs and am always interested in ones about people who have gotten through some great hardships!

  3. I haven't read many memoirs but I do think this one sounds great. Thanks for reviewing, this one is new to me.

  4. Excellent, concise review. This memoir sounds very touching.

  5. Thanks for linking up to Immigrant Stories Challenge - I will be reading this book later in the month for the tour. I read First They Killed My Father after visiting Cambodia a few years ago. While there, we visited the genocide museum and it was devastating to see what went on during the reign of Khmer Rouge. We intended to go to the Killing Fields but we were so overwhelmed by the museum that we couldn't make it.

    Great review!

  6. I had a bit of deja vu reading your review, thinking that I was sure I had read this book at some point. Then I realized that the book I read was about a Chinese adoptee who returned to China to meet her family - so completely different. (Really I have no idea how I kept all of the books straight in those pre-blogging years.) This looks like just the type of memoir I gravitate toward.

  7. Great post! Sounds like a good book.

    Harvee - Please email me as I haven't received your snail mail yet for the giveaway. Thanks.

  8. Yvonne: I sent a couple more emails to you. Hope you get them!

  9. Stories like this remind me how lucky I am to have led the life I have led.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  10. This sounds like an eye-opening read to me! I have heard of the killing fields but haven't really read anything about it. Excellent review of this memoir!

  11. She's local author and she's coming to speak at my library at the end of this month :) She first came into my radar when Thrity Umbrigar pointed her out at her book signing a few months ago. I love when authors, especially locals, support each other!

  12. It was such a sad time. Know it will always live in her memory.


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