Year 7, Book 53

53. In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
Based loosely on the author’s own experiences during the war in Cambodia, this novel is told from the perspective of 7 year old Raami, who witnesses the horrors that her family is put through after the Khmer Rouge take over. It is of course a haunting story, and the fact that it is told from the perspective of a child means you are brought into this world without understanding what is really happening or why. It would have been antithetical to the point of this decision to make the child the only narrator, but I would have liked to have more inclusion of the actual war and what was driving the different factions, particularly the Khmer Rouge. It’s entirely my own fault that my knowledge about this period in Cambodian history is sketchy at best, but I felt like it was difficult for me to truly understand what was happening as the Khmer Rouge often felt like nameless, faceless evildoers. I suppose this is the same place that the child in the book was coming from though and perhaps many adults in the country as well. I give it a 6 out of 10.

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