Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge” as Want to Read:
Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  502 ratings  ·  125 reviews

2017 IPPY GOLD Award
2018 BookLife Finalist Award
2017 1st Place for Writer's Digest's Self-Pub E-Book Award
2018 National Indie Excellence Award
2018 Next Generation Indie Book Finalist Award

With only half a canteen of water and one baby bottle, a family of eight fought for their lives in the killing fields and land mines of Cambodia.

Surrounded by
Kindle Edition, 326 pages
Published September 11th 2016 by Lotus Book Group
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Beautiful Hero, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Shelli If you log in to your Amazon account, pull down the "Accounts & Lists" menu, and then select "Your Content and Devices", you will find all of your…moreIf you log in to your Amazon account, pull down the "Accounts & Lists" menu, and then select "Your Content and Devices", you will find all of your Kindle books, including this one! You can read it from the cloud or download it to your Kindle from there. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  502 ratings  ·  125 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge
Christmas Carol ꧁꧂
I received this kindle book as a gift from the author in return for an honest review. Thank you for this Jennifer - I feel very honoured to have been chosen to do a read for review. I've proofed (well, proofed by my standards!) my review & I know I sound fulsome, but this book so deserves it. I have no prior acquaintance with Ms Lau at all.

This book covers the same time period and history as First They Killed My Father A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung (the brutal treatment and forced relocating of their own people by the Khmer Rouge), but after
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 1
Recommended to Thomas by: Goodreads
Shelves: giveaways, biography
4.5 stars
This is an inspiring book. The author tells a story of how she, her 5 siblings, and both parents survived the genocide in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge killed 2 million people out of a population of 6 million people. The genocide was stopped by the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1979.
She attributes the reason for their survival to her mother, Mei Yeng. Mei means Beautiful and Yeng means Hero. Her grandparents, several aunts and uncles and many cousins were killed or died of starvation,
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I read this book about one family's horrifying attempt to escape the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970's I couldn't stop comparing it with what was going on with my life at exactly the same time. Unspeakable atrocities were being perpetrated against entire families, while we in the West were blissfully unaware.
Jennifer Lau's account shares the courage and determination of her close knit family and tells how her Beautiful Hero, her unstoppable mother got her family out of Cambodia and into
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, firstreads
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

An excellent biography about surviving the depredations of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Amazing anyone survived that time.
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing, captivating and humbling! I force myself to read at least one inspiring non-fiction book per month and I say force because I do not find it easy to read about suffering that was/is just as real to others as my life of safety and security is to me. I can never allow myself to marginalize my humanity by turning a blind eye to the suffering that has taken place and judge the wounded. My heart needs to be led by mercy and reading this story and others like this helps me and stay focus ...more
Peggy Geiger
Genre: Autobiography, Non-fiction

The Khmer Rouge, followers of the Cambodia Communist party, was an offshoot of the North Vietnam People's Army established in 1968. During the Cambodian revolution in the years 1975 to 1979, Cambodian genocide resulted in the death of over two million people, one third of the country's total population.

Although the story was written by the adult author, it is told from the perspective of a small child. At the age of five, her village was forced to evacuate their
Sambath Meas
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful Hero: A Tribute to an Extraordinary Mother

The whole point of reading literature, it seems to me, is to learn to have sympathies, imaginative relationships with people who are different from one’s self.
—Irving Howe

All families suffer under the Khmer Rouge (Red Khmer), but each in its own way. For the Hong family, in addition to playing down their commercial background, they must also renounce their Chinese language, heritage, and culture, and speak Khmer peasant vernacular in order to
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I won a giveaway kindle version of this book for a review. Jennifer Lau gives an impressive account of what her family went through to escape the siege of the Khmer Rouge. At five years old her family was forced out of their homes. Her family spent to next six years trying to escape to freedom and eventually to America. The goal for this Chinese family who were born in Cambodia was to survive and make it to Thailand where they hoped for freedom and help. "Beautiful Hero" is what her mother's ...more
Andrea Huelsenbeck
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
In 1975, I was a young wife and teacher. Although I knew about the Vietnam War, I was blissfully unaware of the U.S. bombings of Cambodia that greatly facilitated the take-over of that country by the Khmer Rouge. I wouldn’t hear about the killing fields until decades later.
Meanwhile, five-year-old Geng, born in Cambodia to Chinese parents, was about to have her world turned upside down. Along with her parents (a photographer and a hair dresser), her brother, and two sisters, she was driven from
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
What does love look like? This book is a beautiful picture of a Mother’s love. The lengths the author’s mother went to ensuring the survival of not only her family but any others she could help is amazing.
Every page of this memoir gripped me.
It’s an unvarnished memoir. Very little is told about the events that plunged the author’s family into the maelstrom. It’s the memories of a child struggling to make sense of a world dominated by absolute evil. How can she understand the action of adults
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the stuff of nightmares. While reading Beautiful Hero, I had to keep reminding myself that the horrific circumstances surrounding the narrator's childhood actually happened. This isn’t makebelieve. The atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge, its forced labor camps and genocide are unfathomable. And yet we’re not shocked. Every day we’re reminded of man’s capacity for cruelty and inhumanity. Watching the news sends us riding an emotional rollercoaster from outrage to shame and ...more
Zoe's Human
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lt
Beautiful Hero is a narrative autobiography of a woman's experience of the Cambodian genocide as perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge in the later half of the 1970s when she was just a child. It is a combination of a releasing act of therapy for the author, an insightful personal history into a seldom discussed event, and a tribute to the writer's mother.

It can be difficult to review books like this. The experiences contained within memoirs of atrocities are so personal that it can feel sacrilege to
Ted Waterfall
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: won-on-goodreads
The Biblical Job and all his troubles had nothing on this true to life family as they tried desperately to survive the brutal genocidal policies of the Khmer Rouge after they seized control of the Cambodian government in the mid-1970s. Attempting to create a truly classless, Communist government, the Khmer Rouge's main tactic was to murder the elite, or anyone who seemed to be elite. Where even wearing a pair of glasses could classify you as an intellectual and result in the death penalty. Where ...more
I've read a few books about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia but this one is a winner and will get a 5 star from me. This is an extraordinary account of a young girl growing up during the horrors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. She was only 5 when she and her family were forced out of their city and into the countryside where they were forced into communal labor.
The next four and a half years consisted of death marches, starvation, forced labor, and dreams of escape. In "Beautiful Hero: How We
Laura Ruetz
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a non-fiction book that you won't want to put down. The writing is clear and concise and it is a heartbreaking look at the best and worst of humanity but there is good that shines through. The author was young when she went through this, and the book is written from simple and honest views of a child. It hasn't been embellished, nor are the things witnessed shied away from - but they are described in stark reality from a child's view and memory and that makes for such a powerful book ...more
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book will stay with me. It was very hard to read but I didn't want to put it down. The story was well written. It was so descriptive that the scenes came alive; I felt like I was there. I was a few years older than the author when this story took place. I couldn't help but compare my childhood to hers. I have so much admiration for her family. I was overjoyed by parts and horrified by others. After reading this I had a lot of thinking to do. I received this in a Goodreads giveaway.
Jennifer Mangler
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is not an easy book to read, but that's exactly why more people should read it. I knew about the Khmer Rouge before I starting reading and yet still found myself shocked and horrified by what Lau's family endured. Her mother is a true force of nature and I am in awe of her strength and determination to keep her family alive and get them to safety. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via the Goodreads giveaway.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Won Kindle version in a GoodReads giveaway...

Wonderful story of survival.. Lot of history never learned in "history" class!!!

Thanks for the education!!!
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war-vietnam, memoir
Humans can often find ways of surviving in the worst of conditions.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
An amazing book about a time in history that I knew little about. To read about the atrocities that mankind is capable of is unbelievable. The perseverance of this family makes you wonder if given the same situation how would you fair? My guess is not well. A well written book rich in detail. I’m glad I won this through the Goodreads giveaway.
Sue Adams
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Truly amazing

I read this book while visiting Cambodia and wanted to learn more about the country, people, and the Khmer Rouge. It is truly amazing what the Cambodian people lived thru and their courage to never give up. The people today are very warm and friendly, always there to help in their own way. I enjoyed this book very much and applaud Jennifer Lau on her tenacity and courage. This is an amazing family.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways, 2017
-4/5. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via the Goodreads giveaway.

"Beautiful Hero" is an autobiographical memoir by Jennifer Lau, in which the author details her childhood in Cambodia, under the oppression of the Khmer Rouge. Only five years old when the Khmer Rouge appeared at her door one night and forced her family out, the author tells her story of death, famine and ultimately resilience.

The author does a good job with her personal narration, and also makes sure to add
Ronald Keeler
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Beautiful Hero by Jennifer Lau comes with the subtitle “How We Survived The Khmer Rouge.” I could not help but compare it to stories of the Nazi Holocaust; many others have made the same comparison, I am in no way original in doing so. This is the story of one family’s successful attempt to escape from a country occupied and ruled by a group of leaders who followed the politics of genocide. Pol Pot was the principal leader but could not exercise complete autocratic power. As recently as last ...more
Jen Estevez
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaway-win
I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway contest and this is my honest review.

This memoir is told from the voice of Geng, third oldest of seven siblings. In Cambodia 1975 the Khmer Rouge soldiers force villagers from their homes and town, then into giant concentration camps. Geng, her family and extended family had moments to gather their belongings and start walking. Initially they were told it was a temporary evacuation for the safety. For the next four years Geng and her
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Disclaimer: I received this book from GoodReads in return for a review

Back in 1984, I went to the theater to see the movie "The Killing Fields". I sat in row by myself, which I usually did, and, just as the lights started to dim, a small Asian man sat down in the seat next to me. It was obvious, by his reaction to the movie, that he was Cambodian, and that he had lived through the horror that was Khmer Rouge's reign of terror in Kampuchea. His running commentary and outbursts towards what was on
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My three positives and a negative because the world needs more positivity:
+ As typical, I was wary of this book. Non-fiction is outside of my reading comfort zone. However, I am striving to expand my view of the world. This book did not disappoint. Yes, it was cruel. Yes, it was horrifying. But, as I hope will always be, the quiet beauty of life and the human spirit pushes through the hate
+ Told from a child's perspective, the first part of the book has an almost outsider perspective. It is both
Disclaimer: I received this book for free through a Goodreads' giveaway.

I've read other memoirs about the Khmer Rouge, so I had a basic grasp of the overall timeline and back drop before reading "Beautiful Hero" by Jennifer H. Lau. This does not take away from the horror Lau's family faced or this memoir, and it amazes me that they were able to survive while others were less fortunate. There were parts of the memoir that were especially shocking to me, such as the treatment the family received
Michele Heine
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
**Note, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review

The books starts with the author, a young child at the time, describing life before the Khmer Rouge came on the scene. It's interesting to hear her story and about the life she and her extended family led. Her mother especially was driven to lead a successful life, despite having a less than motivated husband. Her mother's canny business skills caused them to be one of the more successful households in their neighborhood,
Scot McAtee
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as a First Reads Giveaway. But there's a reason it has won awards. It is an excellent book and well worth your time. It was riveting, incredible and a testament to the greatness (and awfulness) of the human soul. I would put it right up there with Elie Wiesel's "Night" only more intense.

I read the first third of the book within 24 hours of receiving it and then, as the saying goes, the pooh hit the fan. By that I mean the graphic accounts of how terrible the Khmer were
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
First, I want to thank Good Reads Giveaway for the free Kindle copy of Beautiful Hero. While this was a difficult book to read due to its content, I would highly recommend it to all book lovers of history.
I found Jennifer's story so inspiring full of courage and determination to overcome atrocities that we can't even begin to understand or imagine. While I had heard of the Khmer Rouge, I certainly did not have an understanding of the brutality or suffering of the people. I truly feel honored to
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Oprah's Book Club...: Beautiful Hero:How We Survived The Khmer Rouge 3 16 Dec 04, 2016 12:10PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • All Those Things Revealed
  • Rescued from the Ashes: The Diary of Leokadia Schmidt, Survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto
  • Surviving The Forest
  • Red Blood, Yellow Skin
  • Old McDowell’s Farm
  • I, Who Did Not Die
  • Sinkhole: A Horror Story
  • The Best People: A Tale of Trials and Errors
  • Choosing Light: When an Earthquake Buried Me and My Family for 5 Days, I Learned to Fully Live
  • FAKE PAPERS: Survival Lessons from Grandma's Escape
  • The Broken Circle: A Memoir of Escaping Afghanistan
  • The Nazi, the Princess, and the Shoemaker
  • The Company of Demons
  • Sabina: In the Eye of the Storm
  • Cambodia
  • Red Blood, Yellow Skin - Endless Journey
  • Starkweather: Inside the Mind of a Teenage Killer
  • Love and Loss in Cambodia: a memoir
See similar books…
Jennifer H. Lau was born in Cambodia in 1970, the third of seven children. She was only five when the Khmer Rouge forcibly relocated her family, friends and neighbors to live and work in one giant concentration camp. She endured four long years of living in perpetual fear, under constant threat of execution, disease, and starvation. Her daily survival often depended on finding the next drop of ...more
“how the Khmer Rouge had multiplied and risen to power. It was due to four years of bombing, ordered by Washington, D.C. to destroy the cargo route linking Cambodia to North Vietnam.” 1 likes
“At the farm, in our hut, they cooked plain rice porridge and added soy sauce for taste, which nearly rivaled the thrill of drinking water. That was all I ate for a week.” 0 likes
More quotes…