Megan Dion's Reviews > First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung
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's review
Jan 03, 2010

it was ok

The story of Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father, may be a fascinating one, however for people like me who may greatly appreciate reading but don’t always enjoy reading, may want to pick something else up. Loung Ung’s approach to her story is great; she shares every detail of how great her life was right before, in just a matter of seconds, everything changed because of the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge were the ruling communist party over Cambodia from 1975-1979, who forced all the civilians of the cities to abandon their homes, people like Loung’s family. Loung Ung and her family lived in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. I loved the beginning. It was enticing and meaningful, but as she tells her story about her struggle for survival in the refugee camps, it gets depressing and repetitive. It’s not a long book, however is feels long when you read five chapters about her hunger and the guilt she feels for stealing food. I respect all that Loung went through to survive, but her story is not one I care to read about. It would make a great movie. Being able to see an innocent five year old girl go through those violent times, would have a greater effect ont he audience. I believe there is a need for more movies about true stories that are hidden from the world; especially about genocide that occurs today.
While some arguably believe First They Killed My Father is nonfiction I see it as nonfiction fiction, and I prefer to read nonfiction. The book was not published until 2000, while the book takes place in the 1970s. Sure it was a tragic time for Loung which unfortunately scars those memories in her for a long time, but those conversations have to be far from word-for-word. Perhaps I would have found a diary more interesting.
Also, I do not understand her reasoning for her title First They Killed My Father. First, they actually invaded her home, and forced her family to leave. Then they send her family on a trek for hundreds of miles. While they did not directly kill Loung’s sister Keav, who dies before her father, she would not have died if it weren’t for “them.”
Loung’s message of how people need to be more grateful for having their basic needs fulfilled, and for their family etc. is an inspiring and motivating one, but I bet it would be even better and moving if it were shared in a movie.

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message 1: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Excellent reivew, Megan. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

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