It's so hard to put what I think into words on this one. I have friends (Canadian friends) who moved to Cambodia a few years back, and when they came...moreIt's so hard to put what I think into words on this one. I have friends (Canadian friends) who moved to Cambodia a few years back, and when they came back after the first year, they told stories about the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot's regime. It happened just before I was born, so I had no idea - and it's not taught in school like the World Wars.
So this book is a mixture of things for me. It's a chance to learn more about this terrible regime (albeit a fictional book, it is based off Ratner's own experiences with the Khmer Rouge at the age of 5). I found it a bit soft compared to other things I've heard and read about the genocide - in the sense that the author toned down the violence and somewhat romanticized (it's the wrong word, I can't seem to think of the right one) the character's ordeal. She talks of people "settling in" and as if they went about ordinary lives when in reality they were being carted off and executed, tortured and starved to death. That's not to say that the characters didn't go through some extremely hard things - it's just that the story was softened. The violence is only occasionally mentioned until near the end of the book, when it picks up the pace a little.
One thing this book did do was answer a little bit of the "why" questions I had. It doesn't fully explain it (although I'm not sure it can be fully explained), but it was a start. The author included many of the rules of the regime in the plot, and some of their way of thinking. It was delusional, too ideological - and that's why it failed, but it shows something of the human condition, it's something we see in war after war after war. The way people were treated has happened in war after war after war. It's sickening.
As for the characters, we start off with a family who is very privileged, and we see them torn apart and their spirits broken throughout the book. I felt a strong connection to Raami and her father, though her mother seemed a bit distant, perhaps because the book is written from Raami's point of view and that's how the relationships were developed. I started to see Raami's mother in a different light as the book goes on, but I still felt disconnected from her - which is weird...I feel that as a mother myself I should have identified with her more.
All in all, the book is beautifully written, and if I hadn't known a little bit about the more violent parts of the Khmer Rouge regime, I would have completely loved it. It's probably an excellent book for someone without this knowledge, as an opening to learn about this genocide that doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves.(less)
I actually really enjoyed this, despite the reviews I read. It felt authentic to me, mostly...although in a few places I think the characters said thi...moreI actually really enjoyed this, despite the reviews I read. It felt authentic to me, mostly...although in a few places I think the characters said things that probably were a bit too modern. I liked Minnie and Anling, and felt crazy with rage when they were helpless to control the things happening around them and within their makeshift camp. Not AT them, but at the circumstances and the terrible people perpetrating the crimes. I wholeheartedly disliked Mrs. Dennison, I wanted to slap her because of how she treated Minnie.
I do intend on reading The Rape of Nanking, which other reviewers have said is better than this one. The thought that humans can do these type of things to other humans because of race or borders is horrifying...(less)
This was recommended by a friend, I've read Cleopatra's Daughter (which I enjoyed immensely, I gave it 5 stars), and I had *some* basic knowledge abou...moreThis was recommended by a friend, I've read Cleopatra's Daughter (which I enjoyed immensely, I gave it 5 stars), and I had *some* basic knowledge about Cleopatra Selene.
I actually enjoyed this story, I thought it was well written. I loved little Ptolly, I could picture exactly what he looked like by the way he was described. The relationships between the characters was well-developed, though in places I figured out what was going on behind the scenes before Selene.
The only thing I didn't like was how she portrayed Jews. I don't know much about Judaism, but I understand that Jews weren't the same back then as they are now...ideology changes, times change...but they were written as modern-day Jews, which made no sense. But there were only two small scenes that helped the story progression, so it wasn't too bothersome.
But mostly I liked it, I felt a connection with young Cleopatra Selene, I felt invested in her passion for Egypt and getting back to her homeland. I like reading about this time period and learning (although I realize much of it is fictional) about different peoples and countries.(less)
This book was amazing. I didn't know anything about ancient Rome or Greece going into it, or the characters (although I'd heard their names before, th...moreThis book was amazing. I didn't know anything about ancient Rome or Greece going into it, or the characters (although I'd heard their names before, that's as far as my knowledge went). The book sucked me right in and kept me reading right until the very end. My emotions went up and down right along with Kleopatra Selene, the voice of the story. It was surprisingly easy to read, many times authors put too many strange words, names or the like into their stories, making it hard to read, but Michelle Moran kept it simple.
If you like historical fiction, it's a must-read. If you aren't...well, you should read this anyway, you never know...you might like it! :)(less)
Wow. I don't even know what to say. This book was REALLY good...I had no idea about Vel D'Hiv, you really just don't hear about it at all.
Sarah's stor...moreWow. I don't even know what to say. This book was REALLY good...I had no idea about Vel D'Hiv, you really just don't hear about it at all.
Sarah's story got me right from the very first chapter - can't tell you much about that, but it's heartwrenching for sure.
Sarah's story was MUCH stronger than Julia's story...I found myself rushing through her parts to get back to Sarah, and when it got to the point where both worlds "collided", I didn't really care to know the rest - I just didn't like her character or her husband. I stuck it out though and it's not like Julia's portion of the story was awful or anything, it just wasn't as intriguing as Sarah's, but it wasn't a waste of time either.
Overall, an excellent book, though. Definitely recommended if you enjoy reading books about WWII (I seem to keep reading them lately - one after the other, without even meaning to).(less)
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I started reading it knowing nothing of the history of Coventry, and felt pulled along by the story line. I l...moreI was pleasantly surprised by this book. I started reading it knowing nothing of the history of Coventry, and felt pulled along by the story line. I loved the little trip back in time that it took near the beginning of the story, where you start to see things coming around in a circle, but it doesn't until nearly the very end.
It was interesting reading about the war from a country outside of Germany, being bombed BY the Germans (all the books I've read about WWII are about the concentration camps or life in Germany at the time) - and this really brings it home how many innocent lives are ended and how many people are hurt (physically or emotionally) by war.
This book all takes place within a few hours, with a few flashbacks, and is thoroughly enjoyable. I will be looking at more from this author, for sure.(less)
This book was really hard for me to get into...I enjoy reading about different disasters and thought that it would be easy to read about. But the name...moreThis book was really hard for me to get into...I enjoy reading about different disasters and thought that it would be easy to read about. But the names and the language was hard for me to wrap my head around. It got better about halfway through the book (though honestly I don't think they said or did some of the things written in their time, like use the "f" word). The last half of the book was constant go-go-go and I enjoyed it.(less)