In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
Like many books, I read this book on my mom’s recommendation. She was reading it for book club and thought I might like it. Basically this book is about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (something I basically knew nothing about) through the eyes of a seven year old girl. She starts off as the daughter of a prince and then a revolution occurs, one that wants to eliminate all remnants of the former leaders and generally create chaos.
I will say that I got kind of bored/overwhelmed when it came to learning about all the culture and stories and history of the country. I recognize that they were important especially for how the girl processes what is going on (it makes sense for evil people to be demons) but I didn’t really enjoy them. I guess the book just had a very different feel to it. More of almost a dreamlike quality for much of it.
This book took a long time for me to really get into it (probably at least half the book before I actually knew if I liked it or not) because there was a lot of background and character development and what not. I think the point was to show how life went from what was normal for them to catastrophic.
I appreciated that although this book was sad (I mean, it’s about lots of people dying) the ending was hopeful. Given all that she went through I was glad that the girl was able to have a second chance. Also it was very interesting to learn that the story is based off of the author’s own experience as a child. Also it should be noted that this is quite a long book (I think, although I read the ebook version so length is a little deceptive).
I didn’t like this book as much as my mom (I think this book is exactly the type of thing she loves) but it was definitely well written and something I ultimately am glad I read. It does remind me that there is so much of history that I just know nothing about. I would recommend this book. It deals with really heavy topics in a way that is manageable and not (at least for me) too overwhelming.
#31 of 2017