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When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge

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In a mesmerizing story, Chanrithy Him vividly recounts her trek through the hell of the "killing fields." She gives us a child's-eye view of a Cambodia where rudimentary labor camps for both adults and children are the norm and modern technology no longer exists. Death becomes a companion in the camps, along with illness. Yet through the terror, the members of Chanrithy's In a mesmerizing story, Chanrithy Him vividly recounts her trek through the hell of the "killing fields." She gives us a child's-eye view of a Cambodia where rudimentary labor camps for both adults and children are the norm and modern technology no longer exists. Death becomes a companion in the camps, along with illness. Yet through the terror, the members of Chanrithy's family remain loyal to one another, and she and her siblings who survive will find redeemed lives in America. A Finalist for the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize.


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In a mesmerizing story, Chanrithy Him vividly recounts her trek through the hell of the "killing fields." She gives us a child's-eye view of a Cambodia where rudimentary labor camps for both adults and children are the norm and modern technology no longer exists. Death becomes a companion in the camps, along with illness. Yet through the terror, the members of Chanrithy's In a mesmerizing story, Chanrithy Him vividly recounts her trek through the hell of the "killing fields." She gives us a child's-eye view of a Cambodia where rudimentary labor camps for both adults and children are the norm and modern technology no longer exists. Death becomes a companion in the camps, along with illness. Yet through the terror, the members of Chanrithy's family remain loyal to one another, and she and her siblings who survive will find redeemed lives in America. A Finalist for the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize.

30 review for When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Normally, I can't wait to get to bed. I can't wait to lie in bed and read. The house is quiet, the kids are asleep, the tv is off - just quality time with a book. But when reading this book, reading wasn't always pleasant. This is really not a book you read to to enjoy it or to be pulled into another world and explore it. I read this in part because my boyfriend recommended it, in part because we sponsor a child in Cambodia and in part because I didn't know much about the Khmer Rouge and wanted Normally, I can't wait to get to bed. I can't wait to lie in bed and read. The house is quiet, the kids are asleep, the tv is off - just quality time with a book. But when reading this book, reading wasn't always pleasant. This is really not a book you read to to enjoy it or to be pulled into another world and explore it. I read this in part because my boyfriend recommended it, in part because we sponsor a child in Cambodia and in part because I didn't know much about the Khmer Rouge and wanted to learn. This is the story of Chanrithy Him and her family, her parents and seven siblings. This is her story of how it was growing up in a Cambodia, torn apart by the Khmer Rouge. What this family is put through is truly dreadful. There are passages where you just question how any human being is cable of inflicting such suffering on others - or how anyone manage to survive it all. Chanrithy tells engagingly about how she and her family is forced to leave their home and find their way out of the city, ending up in various villages in the country as they move along. Very quickly her father is executed - being a man of learning, he was not wanted by the Khmer Rouge who sought to create a society where all was equal and where anybody with any education was a threat to be eliminated. After being forced to dig his own grave, her father is killed with a hoe ... Her mother is then the sole caretaker of the family but most of the children are forced to work, sometimes being sent to work camps far away on their own and never given enough to eat. The lack of food and the very hard work naturally have an impact on their health, inflicting various diseases on them or causing rather minor diseases to become much more critical. One of the hardest things for me to read was the story of how her three-year old brother lies in hospital, dying, and how all he wants - of course - is his mother. But she is too sick to be able to walk to the hospital to see him so he ends up dying without his mother visiting him - and when he has died, his sister takes his shirt off him because the family needs that for another child... Also, the story of Chanrithy's other little brother who does survive the Khmer Rouge is heartbreaking since he is too young to really understand what's happening - but not too young to feel the suffering and the hunger - and is left too fend for himself all day when his older family member are working in the fields. An execution of a pregnant woman is also a scene that stays with me. Although we are all more or less desensitized to stories of human suffering, war crimes, and killings, the Khmer Rouge were so cruel that parts of this story really shocked me. And as if the physical suffering they inflicted on the people of Cambodia wasn't enough, they also tried to eliminate the culture by minimizing the importance of family, the polite ways of addressing others - and of course killing off anybody who in any way caught their displeasure. One thing I was really impressed with in Chanrithy's memoirs is the fact that she does tell stories about some members of the Khmer Rouge who was kind and helpful, caring and friendly. She does share how some of them helped her in various ways - some of them just by being kind and showing some humanity. This is a dreadful history of a truly tragic period of human history. I would like to conclude by saying something along the lines that if you don't know history, you are doomed to repeat it, but sometimes I fear that these various tyrannic regimes actually take notes from each other so that they constantly evolve and each new regime becomes even more horrible than the one before, capable of inflicting even more suffering. Still, knowledge is a good thing - unless of course you are living in a country ruled by Mao, the Khmer Rouge or other regimes hating education and knowledge. For us, fortunate enough to live in countries where we have the freedom to do pretty much whatever we wish for, in some ways we have a duty to honor the people suffering in other countries by at the very least reading about their plights.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    This memoir was a heart wrenching account of what it was like to live under the Khmer Rouge regime. Him's account starts when she was a child living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She goes onto describe the mass "evacuation" of her city and being placed in a labour camp. She also goes onto describe the conditions of the camps, starvation, the loss of loved ones, and the other horrors she faced. If you read this memoir, it can help to put current refugee events into perspective. Also, make sure you have This memoir was a heart wrenching account of what it was like to live under the Khmer Rouge regime. Him's account starts when she was a child living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She goes onto describe the mass "evacuation" of her city and being placed in a labour camp. She also goes onto describe the conditions of the camps, starvation, the loss of loved ones, and the other horrors she faced. If you read this memoir, it can help to put current refugee events into perspective. Also, make sure you have plenty of tissues near by.

  3. 4 out of 5

    SARAH

    In preparation for our trip to Cambodia and the Killing Fields near Phnom Penh I read three books: In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung, and When Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him. Each of the three books was about a young girl who, with their families, suffered under the Khmer Rouge communist regime and their genocide campaign. The Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Penh, its last obstacle to ruling all of Cambodia, on April 17th, 1975. They turned t In preparation for our trip to Cambodia and the Killing Fields near Phnom Penh I read three books: In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung, and When Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him. Each of the three books was about a young girl who, with their families, suffered under the Khmer Rouge communist regime and their genocide campaign. The Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Penh, its last obstacle to ruling all of Cambodia, on April 17th, 1975. They turned the cities into ghost towns, evacuating or killing the city dwellers and forcing their populations into the countryside. They abolished schools and universities. They nullified markets and the monetary system, making them all destitute. And systematically executed all those in the former government and military, the teachers, the doctors, the religious leaders, and any they viewed as intellectuals...sometimes just because they wore glasses. All this was done to satisfy Pol Pot's dream of turning Cambodia into an agrarian state isolated from Western influence. But, this was just the beginning of the Khmer Rouge atrocities. When the country was liberated from the regime in January of 1979, an estimated 2 million Cambodians had suffered death under the regime. Almost an entire nation was orphaned. Both First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung and When Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him are autobiographical whereas In the Shadow of the Banyan is a novel, though based on the author's experiences. If you are only going to read one of these three books, I recommend reading First They Killed My Father for its scope. However, I do still recommend reading this book as well. Thy's (short for Chanrithy) story of war starts 6 years before the other two stories - in 1969 - where we get a glimpse of how the competing agendas of the US government and the Chinese government played a role in the rise of the Khmer regime and a Cambodian nation at war before the beginning of the genocide. And, though it is a story that relates to Loung Ung's story it also adds depth of understanding that is not offered if you only read one book. In this book you also find the truth that not all the Khmer Rouge were evil, but they themselves were trying to survive. "As I stare at these Khmer Rouge, Uncle Seng's last words replay in my mind: The Khmer Rouge are my first enemy. I won't stay to see their faces. This is the delicious power of the mind - they can't stop me from my silent thoughts. They can't interrogate my memories."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Books Ring Mah Bell

    This book is so depressing it would make Pollyanna eat a gun. However, it was incredibly powerful and moving. I put the book down a few times, refusing to pick it up again. I skimmed some of the more awful parts (3 year old brother dying, pregnant woman being slaughtered) and was rewarded with one simple thing: this woman survives and comes out tough and compassionate. She manages to rise above where others crumble...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Woman Reading

    One of many Cambodian stories that need to be heard. 3.5 stars Spurred by my first visit to Cambodia and to 4 other Southeast Asian countries earlier this year, I returned home dissatisfied by my own ignorance. Despite taking an Advanced Placement History course in high school, my main takeaway from the Vietnam War was that my country’s involvement was motivated by the Domino Theory of containment to stop the spread of Communism. I didn’t know until my visit that the US military had also been act One of many Cambodian stories that need to be heard. 3.5 stars Spurred by my first visit to Cambodia and to 4 other Southeast Asian countries earlier this year, I returned home dissatisfied by my own ignorance. Despite taking an Advanced Placement History course in high school, my main takeaway from the Vietnam War was that my country’s involvement was motivated by the Domino Theory of containment to stop the spread of Communism. I didn’t know until my visit that the US military had also been active in Cambodia and Laos as part of that strategy. I sensed a great deal of self-censorship from my local tour guide in Phnom Penh. I had visited the Tuol Sleng genocide museum, and this led me to read Chanrithy Him’s (“Athy”) When Broken Glass Floats (WBGF) for a group book of the month. I know that the author hadn’t been imprisoned there because only about a dozen survivors, all men, had been freed from the infamous S-21 prison. Nor did I expect WBGF to provide me with a comprehensive overview of the Khmer Rouge (which it didn’t), since it was the author’s account of her life from age four to sixteen. Her purpose for writing her memoir was to give voice to other victims so that mental health help could be provided to children exposed to war. It was also Athy’s act of defiance and vengeance to the Khmer Rouge, which still had not been tried for crimes against humanity by 2000 (the publication year of WBGF), despite efforts from both the United Nations and the then Cambodian government. WBGF was initially a slow read for me. The preface had set the stage for some of the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities - such as children had witnessed other humans cut up so that their livers could be eaten. My mind also still contained horrific images from Tuol Sleng, which had housed the worst of the documented cruelties, such as the dried blood and bodily fluid - stained floors of the closet-sized prison cells. So my anticipatory fears of what had occurred to Athy and her family made me quite reluctant to read. Although my worst fears weren’t realized, Athy’s childhood was still truly harrowing to read. "We eat tadpoles, crickets, toads, centipedes, mice, rats and scorpions. We eat everything. Hunger owns us." In a world in which pens and writing signified the outlawed indicators of education, Athy said that the passage of time was marked by the deaths of her family members. This consequently made my reading progress marked by the need for chocolate to mitigate the grim realities that I was reading. But now that I have finished WBGF, I was most struck by Athy’s desire to live, which sustained her through the deaths of her parents and five siblings, starvation, and enslavement as an agricultural laborer. (view spoiler)[Born in 1965, Athy was the sixth child of ten for her parents, Pa and Mak. Two brothers died from lack of medical treatment in 1969 in the aftermath of the shelling following the Viet Cong into Cambodia. After the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh in April 1975, Pa was the first to be brutally murdered in June 1975. Three other siblings died slowly from illness brought upon by starvation and malnutrition between 1976 and 1978. Her mother, Mak, ill from starvation, was still alive when the Khmer Rouge threw her into a well with other corpses. When they reached a United Nations refugee camp in 1979, Athy was 14 and her four remaining siblings ranged in age from 4 to 22. (hide spoiler)] Outrunning the wheel of history (kang prawattasas) I couldn’t quite pinpoint which factors most accounted for Athy’s survival. Her survival seemed as though it could be attributed to a combination of her will to survive, pure luck, being a girl child (as opposed to being an adult male), having older family members nearby, and her faith which consisted of a blend of Buddhism and ancestor worship. Her eldest sister was the one who taught her the story, for which she named her memoir: "Klok (a squash representing “good”) and armbaeg (shards of broken glass representing “evil”) are thrown together into the river of life. Klok sinks and armbaeg floats, but not for long. Soon there will be a reversal and good will win over evil." The author’s family was one of the typical groups targeted by Pol Pot starting in 1975. Though he himself had been educated in Paris, Pol Pot immediately eliminated the educated or professionals in Cambodian society in order to stifle dissent (after all, by the standards the Khmer Rouge had invoked, that would have qualified Pol Pot for execution). Hospitals, temples, schools and other institutions of a stable society were shut down. Cambodia’s population consisted mostly of agrarian workers, and the Khmer Rouge elevated these folks at the expense of the former urbanites. Pol Pot’s Marxist-Leninist beliefs were claimed as the justification, but it all boiled down to the best way the Khmer Rouge could exert control. Many of the Khmer Rouge’s practices reminded me of extreme methods applied by cults: •Isolate people socially, physically, and emotionally by eliminating or, at least, undermining familial ties •Strip people of their possessions •Break down all societal norms and replace them with new rules and philosophies •Make them dependent upon the leadership for survival (“food” was miserly rationed) •Control their speech and behavior by the use of informants and corporal punishment Overall, reading WBGF was difficult, emotionally grueling but worthwhile. (My guidebook had recommended another memoir - Luong Ung's First They Killed My Father and I'll read that after I check my chocolate inventory.) WBGF is one of many Cambodian stories that need to be heard, not only for this tragic period but as a caution on human behavior in its reach for power. I know that this or a smaller version of it could happen anywhere. I point to the 1960s Milgram experiment or to the 1978 Jonestown massacre. Reading WBGF also gave me a springboard to research this time in history a bit further and filled in the gaps between sterile facts of history. Quick history summary Multiple parties with changing alliances had wrestled for control of Cambodia during the second half of the 20th century. Cambodia is a small country (about the size of Oklahoma, USA), that is bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand. Given this geo physical reality, Cambodia was inevitably pulled into larger regional conflicts and power-plays. The Vietnam War or the War Against the USA (depending on your perspective) had actually been fought in 3 countries from late 1955 to April 1975 as the Communist Viet Cong dispersed throughout the region. No longer a French colony by 1953, Cambodia’s leader Prince Norodom Sihanouk was deposed in a bloodless coup in 1970. The new government was headed by Lon Nol, who had been supported by the United States. Prince Sihaunook sought refuge in Communist China who encouraged him to fight back with the assistance of his former enemies, the Communist Khmer Rouge military. The Khmer Rouge had captured the capital Phnom Penh in April 1975 and soon after forced all residents (1 to 2 million persons) to relocate to the rural areas. The Khmer Rouge claimed that American forces were about to bomb Phnom Penh. It didn’t happen, probably because American military forces were too busy trying to leave Vietnam before Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army in late April 1975. Led by Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge was responsible for the deaths by execution or from starvation of an estimated 1.75 to 2.5 million Cambodians (approximately 25 percent of the population) from 1975 through 1979. By the end of April 1975, Communist governments held sway in both Cambodia and Vietnam, with both governments united in repelling American military forces. It didn’t take long though for their accord to fray as the Khmer Rouge feared that Vietnam would try to dominate leadership in the Southeast Asian peninsula while Vietnam was concerned that its much larger neighbor China exerted too much influence with Cambodia. On the surface, Pol Pot’s relocation of the urban populace to create large farm collectives resembled Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in China. To me, the Khmer Rouge’s rhetoric was the means of hiding their massive cruelty in exerting power. Military skirmishes between Cambodia and Vietnam began in May 1975 and continued intermittently. The Cambodian genocide ended once Vietnamese forces took over Phnom Penh by January 1979. Sporadic attacks by the Khmer Rouge, however, continued for another decade.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lena Lang

    I think people are generally reluctant to give this book a low rating due to it's subject matter. Seeing as how the author actually experienced the atrocities she described it would be a pretty low blow to critique a book that is essentially her story as she experienced it. However it needs to be said that the writing was pretty juvenile. The dialogue is really stilted and the characters were pretty undeveloped. A really complex situation was pretty much boiled down to bad guys vs good guys with I think people are generally reluctant to give this book a low rating due to it's subject matter. Seeing as how the author actually experienced the atrocities she described it would be a pretty low blow to critique a book that is essentially her story as she experienced it. However it needs to be said that the writing was pretty juvenile. The dialogue is really stilted and the characters were pretty undeveloped. A really complex situation was pretty much boiled down to bad guys vs good guys with the good guys being people in her family or who she befriended and the bad guys being all of the Khumer Rouge. I am in no way saying that the work she is doing and the writing of the book are not valuable.Both endeavors shed light on the atrocities ordinary Cambodians faced under Pol Pot which is important for people for whom this conflict seems too far , too long ago and too foreign to know about. Having said that, I think the book would have definitely benefited from some structural upgrades. The descriptions of her family members were not very detailed or compelling. I always find it hard to endure descriptions of people that center on only the positive things about them. People are multifaceted and complex. Everyone, even the stoic matriarch would have had flaws or weaknesses that I think are worth mentioning because they are easier to relate to. In this case, I found it hard to relate to the author's family both because of the details she chose to share and the heavy use of romanized Cambodian through the text. This was unnecessary and distracting. The main criticism I have of this memoir is that it fails to give a context to her experiences. The average person reading this kind of book probably lacks sufficient historical knowledge to be able to make sense of the events that transpired. I got a sense that the author wrote this work in a large part as a way to make sense of her experiences and give them voice so that she could make peace with her past. I think that is very valuable, but I couldn't help thinking that part of making peace is getting some perspective on what transpired. I felt that this work did not communicate that. It ended as abruptly as it started. I would have loved to have more background on the rise of the Khumer Rouge movement, the role of the US and it's containment policy that lead to the war in Vietnam and well as the role of the neighboring countries like Thailand. This was necessary in that it would help explain the motivations of the revolutionaries as well as the resistance movement in Cambodia. Going forward, this would have helped contextualize her experiences in the refugee camps as well because Thailand's involvement was key to establishing trade, markets and a sense of normalcy for the Camboidian refugees living close to the border. It was not , however, a perfect relationship as many Thai people revictimized the refugees by trafficking them or treating them unfailrly as evidenced by several anecdotes from the story. Again I cannot speak confidently on this topic because it was not elaborated upon in any great detail and was not put into context. There were so many parts of the book that I felt needed elaboration. She hinted at issues that would have made for a more compelling read. One example is the role of semi collaborators like the man who helped the author obtain food and who seemed to be empathetic to her plight. Who were these people? Were they the exception to the rule, or were acts of furtive kindness pervasive through the cruelty of the revolution? I have to admit I want to believe the latter but as Him didn't really say much about that aspect of her story other than to express gratitude, I have to read additional books on the subject. Him also hints at the cultural legacy of the period and how transformative it was for the mentality of the people. This is crystallized when Him has the courage to stand up for herself in class when accused of plagarism. She notes that the revolution allowed people to step outside the Confucian hierarchies that had defined inter generational communication. Without the revolution, without having gone through what she went through she would have never talked to an elder in that way despite being in the right. Other times there appears to be a nostalgia, a comfort when people address her using traditional Cambodian greetings which always take into account the speaker's social position relative to the receiver's. I sensed there is more to this ambivalence about cultural shifts resulting from the revolution than Him addressed. But those can not be spoken about without acknowledging the complexity of the situation and of people's experience. These issues require a more detailed, informed analysis that the one Him provides the readers with in this book. Without providing much of a context for the events she describes, Him works tends to put the reader outside the situation, like a person morbidly observing a car crash. I get that this recreates how it must have felt for the ordinary people involved, but it does little to educate the general public reading about it today. Without contextualizing her experiences, the book is just an array or tear inducing memories.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dorie

    When Broken Glass Floats🍒🍒🍒🍒🍒 By Chanrithy Him 2000 This memoir begins before the rise of the Khymer Regime, when the US government and China government both played significant roles in the Khymer regime, before the beginning of the genocide. When Khymer Rouge took control of Phnon Phen on April 17, 1975, they evacuated or killed entire cities, forcing those that could escape, into the countryside. "Night stretches into day. The revolution of the train wheels on the track sing me to sleep, then I wa When Broken Glass Floats🍒🍒🍒🍒🍒 By Chanrithy Him 2000 This memoir begins before the rise of the Khymer Regime, when the US government and China government both played significant roles in the Khymer regime, before the beginning of the genocide. When Khymer Rouge took control of Phnon Phen on April 17, 1975, they evacuated or killed entire cities, forcing those that could escape, into the countryside. "Night stretches into day. The revolution of the train wheels on the track sing me to sleep, then I wake to rays of sunlight that flirt through the cracks of the sliding door, telling me that time has passed, even if my own world has stopped, brought to a standstill in this freight car." As a young girl, seeing and experiencing the execution of all people deemed intelligent, teachers, political and church leaders,doctors. Then beginning to kill anyone at random for any reason .....seeing pregnant women executed, children's head blown off.....these were everyday occurrences. Being seperated from your family, eating plant roots and mice for survival, suffering sickness and disease with no medical help.....all to fulfill Pol Pot dream of a land with no western influence.... "Than is quiet, but we can feel remorse in his silence. Tonight has brought us brief joy, then grief. Agony at the realization that the Khmer Rouge have shaped us, made our tempers brittle and our hunger sharp. Led us to the point where we could be as cruel to one another as they are to us." Thy suffered, her heart broke watching the brutal reality, working in extreme conditions with little nutrition or clothing....watching those close to her and her family suffer, fall ill or die. They broke her heart but hardened her resolve and determination to make it through. It made Thy a remarkable women of strength, compassion and emotionally integrity. To live through this horror is truly a phenomenon but to be able to tell the story, live through it again to put it on paper is truly inspiring. Highly recommended.....as a personal memoir and one that will inspire you to always rise above.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

    This turned out to be one of the very best personal accounts of survival during the Pol Pot Regime. I've read eight others, mostly by women who were children or in their early teens at the time. Chanrithy Him's prose is smooth and engrossing--after the first chapter, which was hard to get through, full of angry bitterness over her experiences; perfectly understandable, but it doesn't draw the reader in, just establishes a barrier. After this, however, she warms up to her subject and paints a vib This turned out to be one of the very best personal accounts of survival during the Pol Pot Regime. I've read eight others, mostly by women who were children or in their early teens at the time. Chanrithy Him's prose is smooth and engrossing--after the first chapter, which was hard to get through, full of angry bitterness over her experiences; perfectly understandable, but it doesn't draw the reader in, just establishes a barrier. After this, however, she warms up to her subject and paints a vibrant picture of her agonizing struggle for survival during which she loses three siblings and her mother to starvation and her father to a Khmer Rouge death squad. Told in the present tense, the prose is vivid and moves easily back and forth between her internal emotions and the events of her story, and is especially good about explaining cultural and linguistic characteristics relevant to the story. But we can tell that she is not a professional writer: many words are overused and descriptions are repetitive: houses are compared to mushrooms in at least five places. There is also at least one historical error: Him describes meeting a KPNLF soldier prior to May, 1979, when the KPNLF did not exist until October of that year. Nonetheless, I'd rate this at the top of the list of Khmer Rouge survival stories for clarity and readability. The ending, when she finally gets on a plane for the US, is particularly satisfying. The book has a lot in common with Molyda Szymusiak's The Stones Cry Out, but is far more human and introspective, and it compares well with Loung Ung's First They Killed My Father, which has been criticized for its implausible portrayal of a peaceful Phnom Penh in 1975, when the city was actually under siege.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephpin

    I was pretty clueless about the Cambodian genocide under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. We were headed to Cambodia a few years ago and a friend suggested this book. Don't read this book in public. I wept like a baby when I read of the torture and loss of this sweet little girl. She is actually close to my age and has lived many lives. I came away from this book not only educated, but grateful, sad, disgusted and amazed at the will to live. God does hear our prayers. Chanrithy writes with such powe I was pretty clueless about the Cambodian genocide under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. We were headed to Cambodia a few years ago and a friend suggested this book. Don't read this book in public. I wept like a baby when I read of the torture and loss of this sweet little girl. She is actually close to my age and has lived many lives. I came away from this book not only educated, but grateful, sad, disgusted and amazed at the will to live. God does hear our prayers. Chanrithy writes with such power and so matter of fact--I think every teenager and up should read this--the Holocaust seems so long ago, yet this happened during the 70s. I would not recommend children read this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    One can read history - names and dates and numbers - but to truly understand, it is better to get into the lives of those who lived that history. This book does that.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This book provided a very real, raw insight into the travails of this nation and the terrible suffering of its people. What occurred was horrendous yet the endurance and tenacity of the people who were 'enslaved' to survive incredible. I want to read more books on this subject now after reading When Broken Glass Floats. It is just by chance that I was born and have lived a life in country's at peace. To create a more empathic world, we need to understand war and violence. Hopefully we will reali This book provided a very real, raw insight into the travails of this nation and the terrible suffering of its people. What occurred was horrendous yet the endurance and tenacity of the people who were 'enslaved' to survive incredible. I want to read more books on this subject now after reading When Broken Glass Floats. It is just by chance that I was born and have lived a life in country's at peace. To create a more empathic world, we need to understand war and violence. Hopefully we will realize the terrible trauma that it brings to those involved and we will find other ways to 'advance' and knowledge to subdue individuals who wish suffering upon others.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Missy J

    "Chea, how come good doesn't win over evil? Why did the Khmer Rouge win if they are bad people?" Chea answered: "Loss will be God's, victory will be the devil's." When good appears to lose, it is an opportunity for one to be patient, and become like God. "But not very long, p'yoon srey [younger sister]," she explained, and referred to a Cambodian proverb about what happens when good and evil are thrown together into the river of life. Good is symbolized by klok, a type of squash, and evil by armb "Chea, how come good doesn't win over evil? Why did the Khmer Rouge win if they are bad people?" Chea answered: "Loss will be God's, victory will be the devil's." When good appears to lose, it is an opportunity for one to be patient, and become like God. "But not very long, p'yoon srey [younger sister]," she explained, and referred to a Cambodian proverb about what happens when good and evil are thrown together into the river of life. Good is symbolized by klok, a type of squash, and evil by armbaeg, shards of broken glass. "The good will win over the evil. Now, klok sinks, and broken glass floats. But armbaeg will not float long. Soon klok will float instead, and then the good will prevail." I seriously found this memoir brilliant. Chanrithy Him was 10 years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in her native Cambodia, she was 14 years old when the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia and drove the Khmer Rouge back into the jungle. Finally, she was 16 years when she and her remaining family immigrated to the United States. The writing might be clumsy at times, but the author never failed in making me understand the feeling of helplessness, starvation and resilience in this memoir. She introduced me to the numerous members of her family and to Cambodian customs, she brought me to the killing fields and the moments where she ran for her life, she made me realize what measures we're capable of going when deprived of food. There are several occasions described by Chanrithy Him (nicknamed Athy) that, in my opinion, really stood out: (view spoiler)[ -One morning returning home after fishing for the family, Athy sees her father and uncles having breakfast. She hurries to the kitchen to grab a bowl of rice in order to join her father before he sets off to work as usual. When she returns, to her devastation, the men are gone.- I was impressed by how strong Athy's senses became when nothing but hardship ruled her life. She just knew when a family member was about to die. -Due to starvation, Athy's three-year old brother Vin suffers from dysenteric diarrhea. The December nights are cold and the family is huddled together to sleep. Vin wants to sleep in the arms of his mother, so that he won't feel cold. She pushes him away, announcing that he shouldn't "make his brothers and sisters sick too". When Vin is dying in the hospital, his last wish is to see his mother one more time. Mother is so starved, she doesn't have the energy to walk to the hospital, needless to say the energy to see him dying.- It's awful how a despotic government was able to distort human relationships. -Than, the only teenage son of the family goes fishing to supplement food to the meager rations given by the Khmer Rouge. He hands several fishes to his mother, two for his younger brother, and one fish for each sister. For himself, he keeps four. The youngest sister, Avy quickly devours her fish. She asks Than for a little fish. He ignores her question and continues talking about his adventurous fishing. Avy asks him a second time, then Than throws a piece of the fish at her, yelling "Stubborn!". The fish falls through the crack of the floor. Avy runs out of the hut, searching underneath it for the fish piece.- Like most traditional cultures, the Cambodian culture was also dominated by man. But this event also portrays the lack of compassion (experienced especially by men) when in difficult time. -The author's mother is very sick. Having witnessed so much death already and feeling now numb about it, Athy wonders if she will cry when her mother dies. Hard labor prevents Athy from seeing her mother regularly. When a girl comes to Athy to tell her that her mother was thrown into a well alive, Athy runs into the woods and cries.- However cliche this may sound, this incident showed me how strong love can be. We may not always feel it strongly, but it's always beneath our skin. -Thore Meta is Athy's brigade leader in several labor camps. Though a Khmer Rouge, she is understanding and kind. When Athy's sister Chea is dying, Thore Meta lets her visit her family as much as possible. When Athy is sick from exhaustion, she let's her have proper rest.- This shows that whatever we are called, doesn't necessarily define us. It is our actions that speak louder than titles, names,... -After the Vietnamese army enter Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge went into hiding and would attack several villages unexpectedly. Everybody in the family except the youngest child, four-year old Map, goes looking for food in the village's surrounding rice fields and woods. Athy is together with her eldest sister Ra, when she hears sudden gunshots. They hurry back into the village for Map. While Ra wraps up their belongings, Athy searches for Map. He's found crying amidst frantic people running for their lives. In a rush they divide the load among the three of them and Map is to carry a mat twice his height. The siblings start running, but little Map can't keep up with them. Frustrated, he drops the mat and runs back towards the village.- I cannot imagine the trauma any person under the Khmer Rouge experienced, even less that of a four year old. The children living through war are truly victims. -In one of the refugee camps, Athy attends English classes and is very studious. After receiving a test back, with a score of 19 out of 20, she realizes that the teacher made a mistake. She goes to the teacher, who changes the grade and gives her the deserved full points. One of Athy's classmates asks for her test paper and she starts copying Athy's answers. She goes to the teacher and to receive her full points. Soon other children follow her lead. The teacher is thwarted and calls for the principal. The principal demands who instigated the cheating. Athy tries to explain herself, but the principal immediately points his finger at her and starts accusing her. Athy is surprised when she hears her own voice defending herself and talking against an elder: "If you don't know the truth, don't accuse me of inciting the cheating. If you're stupid, don't act like you know. You are an adult, act like one. If not, no one will respect you, even though you're the principal."- I was completely in awe of Athy's strength, courage, sense of justice and maturity, at only 15. Though she suffered a war and starvation, there was something in her that refused to give up, which sharpened her mind, shaped her views and gave her clarity to what she wanted out of life: learn medicine to be able to cure the people in need. I admire her a lot. -Finally, there's Dr. Achilles Tanedo, the handsome Filipino doctor. (hide spoiler)] This book didn't try to impress me, didn't try to seek out my pity, didn't try to sensationalize anything. It just told me about life and what happened to Athy and her family when ruled by a tyrannical government and starvation. Furthermore, this book gave me an idea how the people of North Korea might be starving. I hope their tribulation is going to come to an end soon, cause Cambodia, four years under the Khmer Rouge, still left the country today with a lot of open wounds.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book started off slow but really picked up. Chanrithy's riveting account of surviving the killing fields of Cambodia and living under the Khmer Rouge kept me turning the pages, holding my breath, and praying that every person in her family makes it out alive. Sadly this is not the case. Throughout her story she loses her father, mother and half her siblings through awful circumstances. The Him family is driven from their home, starved, forced into hard labor camps that benefits the Khmer. L This book started off slow but really picked up. Chanrithy's riveting account of surviving the killing fields of Cambodia and living under the Khmer Rouge kept me turning the pages, holding my breath, and praying that every person in her family makes it out alive. Sadly this is not the case. Throughout her story she loses her father, mother and half her siblings through awful circumstances. The Him family is driven from their home, starved, forced into hard labor camps that benefits the Khmer. Living under the oppressive regime that sees the Cambodians as commodities to be used up, Chanrithy is subjected to cruelty and apathy and lives an existence I cannot fathom. When the family is first forced from their homes they flee to stay in a village with other relatives. It is soon discovered that the village is crawling with informants who will report any indication of words or actions not favorable to the new government. She relates a story of sleeping on the floor and looking through the slats in the floorboards because she feels like someone is watching her. There she sees an informant standing in the basement shadows. I cannot even begin to understand what kind of psychological impact that would have, the fear, the paranoia it makes me shudder. Later her father is taken away for "orientation". They are told he will return in a month. A month passes and he does not return. After weeks of begging for information, a neighbor finally tells Chanrithy's mother the truth in hushed words. Her husband was was considered an enemy of the Khmer Rouge. There was no orientation, instead he and some other men were rounded up, marched to a field, forced to dig their own graves and executed. Chanrithy's mother must then relate the truth to her children, but because of the informants she cannot show any signs of sadness or remorse for fear of being labeled a traitor. She tells her children their father's fate as though she is telling them she plans on making chicken for dinner. Somehow Chanrithy manages to survive everything. When I look back and realize she was just a little girl, I marvel at how she made it through alive. The horrors of war and dictatorship are made all to real to the reader.

  14. 5 out of 5

    JJ Marsh

    A book detailing a child’s survival in 1970 Cambodia is not a novel. Highs and lows orchestrated by the author are absent here. This is not a feel-good story. It is a stark revelation of what it meant to be a child under one of the most ruthless regimes in Asia. This is the early 70s, when Cambodia became an experiment in radical socialism, and the Khmer Rouge took power and attempted to return the country to its 'pure', peasant history. Intellectuals were persecuted, farmers lauded and the entir A book detailing a child’s survival in 1970 Cambodia is not a novel. Highs and lows orchestrated by the author are absent here. This is not a feel-good story. It is a stark revelation of what it meant to be a child under one of the most ruthless regimes in Asia. This is the early 70s, when Cambodia became an experiment in radical socialism, and the Khmer Rouge took power and attempted to return the country to its 'pure', peasant history. Intellectuals were persecuted, farmers lauded and the entire population coerced into forced labour, resulting in mass malnutrition, disease, death and genocide. Figures vary but the commonly accepted fact is that two million people died, which equated to 25% of the country’s population. Him’s experience tells her story from the inside. The explosion of the Vietnam war onto their own soil, the break-up of her family, the loyal bonds of blood and country, the grinding misery of starvation and physical deprivation all take us with her, step by uncertain step. Her description of the ‘hospital’ in which her mother lay is almost unbearable. All this seen through a child’s eyes, conditioned to good manners and respect, to be thrown into a feral environment. Survival, food and reducing empathy to its narrowest circles is at the heart of this moving and powerful narrative. It’s a tough read, taking the reader along a bleak journey, with small spots of sunshine lit by human kindness. Yet all is overshadowed by a power-hungry ideology and its crushing hold on the population. This is an important book, the human face of a political tragedy, and a sobering read for enthusiasts of dystopian YA. You’ll enjoy this is you liked: Nothing to Envy by Barbara Dymick, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Minaret by Leila Aboulela Avoid if you dislike: Harsh truths about survival, extreme regimes and a child's eye view Ideal Accompaniments: Fish-heads in rice, cold water and the theme to The Killing Fields Genre: Non-fiction, memoir

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Heavy and depressing, not many books make me cry. Still I could not put it down. If you really want to know more about life under the Khmer Rouge and the genocide that occurred in the 70s, read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cortney

    Definitely just cried as I read this. It tugged at my mom heart and this was absolutely tragic. But if you don't know about the Cambodian Genocide that happened after the Vietnam war, READ THIS BOOK. But have tissues and if you have kids in your life, hug them just a little bit closer. Definitely just cried as I read this. It tugged at my mom heart and this was absolutely tragic. But if you don't know about the Cambodian Genocide that happened after the Vietnam war, READ THIS BOOK. But have tissues and if you have kids in your life, hug them just a little bit closer.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nicole P

    A heart wrenching, captivating personal account about the Khmer Rouge. Him's account of her and her family's life under the Pol Pot regime was vivid, extraordinary and brutal. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions and cried. A definite must read. A heart wrenching, captivating personal account about the Khmer Rouge. Him's account of her and her family's life under the Pol Pot regime was vivid, extraordinary and brutal. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions and cried. A definite must read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    The Khmer Rouge seizure of Cambodia in 1975 began a period of horrific cruelty and death. Pol Pot's regime evacuated families from Phnom Penh, forcing them into the countryside into forced labor camps and makeshift villages where they were starved, beaten and more often than not executed for even the smallest disobedience. The author was 10 years old when her world violently fell apart, beginning the execution of her father. Before she was even 16, her mother was thrown into a well and she had l The Khmer Rouge seizure of Cambodia in 1975 began a period of horrific cruelty and death. Pol Pot's regime evacuated families from Phnom Penh, forcing them into the countryside into forced labor camps and makeshift villages where they were starved, beaten and more often than not executed for even the smallest disobedience. The author was 10 years old when her world violently fell apart, beginning the execution of her father. Before she was even 16, her mother was thrown into a well and she had lost younger brothers and sisters to disease and starvation. Having fortunately and successfully been sponsored to the America by the only one of her father's brothers to escape the Khmer Rouge, the author shares the story of her amazing survival and that of her remaining siblings during this tragic period of Cambodia's history. While it is not surprising that memories of that period in her life would be extremely painful, she writes without notes of any self-pity. If anything there is a sense of pride in being Cambodian that permeates. Amidst the terror, violence and sorrow, she shares glimpses of the gentle side of Cambodian culture and some of their language. The subject matter is disturbing, but it's an incredible work and one I'm so very glad to have read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    It's difficult to write a review for this book as the subject matter moves me almost beyond words. I've visited Cambodia twice now; seen firsthand the devastation that the Khmer Rouge left on this country. I've walked the killing fields, seen the sunken pits (newly exhumed mass graves), the execution trees, the piles of bones and skulls. I've heard personal stories of families affected by the KR--what devastation and destruction that part of history brought an entire culture. It's a part of hist It's difficult to write a review for this book as the subject matter moves me almost beyond words. I've visited Cambodia twice now; seen firsthand the devastation that the Khmer Rouge left on this country. I've walked the killing fields, seen the sunken pits (newly exhumed mass graves), the execution trees, the piles of bones and skulls. I've heard personal stories of families affected by the KR--what devastation and destruction that part of history brought an entire culture. It's a part of history that needs to be told and Chanrithy Him has done it an excellent job of recanting her experience. I would highly recommend this book. You know, I've had the opportunity to visit many parts of Germany, including the concentration camp at Dachau, and to have lived for six months in Bosnia as they were rebuilding after the war, but there is something about Cambodia that has attached itself to my heart, perhaps you'll understand why too after reading this book. . .

  20. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I've been on a reading kick of refugee/war/holocaust surveyors that are still inspiring. This is the third book I've read in about four days on this topic. What I never realized was how modern parts of Cambodia were before the Khmer Rouge took over. These people were just like us. When Thy talks about having to wade into a river the first time in order to fish for food, she talks about how squeamish she was. For the longest time, they kept thinking that things were going to go back to normal. It I've been on a reading kick of refugee/war/holocaust surveyors that are still inspiring. This is the third book I've read in about four days on this topic. What I never realized was how modern parts of Cambodia were before the Khmer Rouge took over. These people were just like us. When Thy talks about having to wade into a river the first time in order to fish for food, she talks about how squeamish she was. For the longest time, they kept thinking that things were going to go back to normal. It just brought it home to me, that whenever there is tip in power, life can change dramatically overnight. We always need to keep that into perspective. We also need to understand who we can trust, and who we cannot. There of course is lots of room to think in this book. Just how does it apply to my life right now? I believe this would make a good discussion book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    This is a great story illustrating the strength of the human spirit and the will to live and thrive against all odds. Chanrithy Him effectively loses her childhood when her home is bombed as a small child by the Khumer Rouge and her family is thrown into the middle of war-torn Cambodia, struggling to stay together and to survive. Hers is an amazing firsthand account of the horrors of slavery, execution, starvation and disease her family went through in a relatively modern era of the 70s. The cli This is a great story illustrating the strength of the human spirit and the will to live and thrive against all odds. Chanrithy Him effectively loses her childhood when her home is bombed as a small child by the Khumer Rouge and her family is thrown into the middle of war-torn Cambodia, struggling to stay together and to survive. Hers is an amazing firsthand account of the horrors of slavery, execution, starvation and disease her family went through in a relatively modern era of the 70s. The clippings from the US newspapers of the time detailing the events overseas bring to mind the huge differences between a country of freedom and prosperity vs. a country being torn apart by bombs and ruthless individuals.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Wow, what a brutal book. I certainly hope that telling her story helped Ms. Him to deal with and process the memories of this terrible time that she lived through. I feel I must applaud her for being so honest about the things she experienced and saw without allowing her narrative to descend to the level of melodrama, as many of these type of memoirs do. I had not known much about the history of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge before reading this book -- for most Americans, I think the events that w Wow, what a brutal book. I certainly hope that telling her story helped Ms. Him to deal with and process the memories of this terrible time that she lived through. I feel I must applaud her for being so honest about the things she experienced and saw without allowing her narrative to descend to the level of melodrama, as many of these type of memoirs do. I had not known much about the history of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge before reading this book -- for most Americans, I think the events that were happening in Vietnam around the same time overshadowed these -- but I am glad to learn about what happened, brutal as it was. History such as this needs to be remembered so it will not be repeated.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sinuon Cammisa

    Since "The Hunger Games" trilogy I haven't read a book that I have a hard time putting down until I read "When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge". After reading this memoir I've thought about asking my parents, mainly my father if he would be willing to share with me about their life during that era. A subject I have avoided for so long and have only heard bits and pieces of. At 33 and after reading this I felt as if I ought to at least know what my parents had to go through Since "The Hunger Games" trilogy I haven't read a book that I have a hard time putting down until I read "When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge". After reading this memoir I've thought about asking my parents, mainly my father if he would be willing to share with me about their life during that era. A subject I have avoided for so long and have only heard bits and pieces of. At 33 and after reading this I felt as if I ought to at least know what my parents had to go through to get my five sisters and I here to America. I can't say for sure if I'm ready to revisit my parents' past, but this book is the first step towards that journey. With all that being said, I highly recommend this book!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tyson

    This was a difficult book to read. Not because the reading was challenging but because the subject matter was emotionally jarring. It is hard to imagine anyone having to go through everything that the author did. It is also easy to imagine people that are currently suffering similar situations around the world. The good news is that the author and most of her family came out of the ordeal with a much better life. It is inspiring and depressing. A first hand account of life under the Khmer Rouge. This was a difficult book to read. Not because the reading was challenging but because the subject matter was emotionally jarring. It is hard to imagine anyone having to go through everything that the author did. It is also easy to imagine people that are currently suffering similar situations around the world. The good news is that the author and most of her family came out of the ordeal with a much better life. It is inspiring and depressing. A first hand account of life under the Khmer Rouge. Spares nothing raw emotion and uplifting. Recommended.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    This is a memoir written by a woman who grew up (age 9-16) during the years the Khmer Rouge came to power and ruled Cambodia. It was not as gruesome as I feared it might be given the subject. It is the story of her and her family's experiences, and it certainly describes the suffering and tragedies that befall them, but it's also about survival, the human spirit and the ties that bind families to endure hardships I still can't imagine having the strength to endure. This is a memoir written by a woman who grew up (age 9-16) during the years the Khmer Rouge came to power and ruled Cambodia. It was not as gruesome as I feared it might be given the subject. It is the story of her and her family's experiences, and it certainly describes the suffering and tragedies that befall them, but it's also about survival, the human spirit and the ties that bind families to endure hardships I still can't imagine having the strength to endure.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Brutal. Just brutal. Couldn't do justice to even try to define the astonishing display of resilience demonstrated by Thy, her siblings, and basically anyone who survived the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. Exquisitely sad, yet oddly uplifting, my only complaint was a desire for it to last longer and contain more details of Thy's post-Cambodian life. A definite tear jerker, but perspective building at its grandest level. A must read for anyone unfamiliar with this part of history. Brutal. Just brutal. Couldn't do justice to even try to define the astonishing display of resilience demonstrated by Thy, her siblings, and basically anyone who survived the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. Exquisitely sad, yet oddly uplifting, my only complaint was a desire for it to last longer and contain more details of Thy's post-Cambodian life. A definite tear jerker, but perspective building at its grandest level. A must read for anyone unfamiliar with this part of history.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

    Humans can triumph out of the most horrific conditions. Reading this made me think that if people who survived the horror of the Khmer Rouge occupation in Cambodia could continue moving forward in their lives, then so can I.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Amazing, life-changing, historical fiction. Cambodia, Khmer Rouge, and it's impact on ordinary citizens. I felt like I was experiencing the pain, and the numbness of their lives, it was that well-written. What a contrast to my American experience. Amazing, life-changing, historical fiction. Cambodia, Khmer Rouge, and it's impact on ordinary citizens. I felt like I was experiencing the pain, and the numbness of their lives, it was that well-written. What a contrast to my American experience.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    Heart-breaking, and ultimately hopeful, but there is a lot of pain on the way there. It won an Oregon book award in 2003, and it covers events that happened in the 60s and 70s, but it is still terribly relevant.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    Cambodia --SE Asia-- (1968-1981) "In the end, I know only that war is inevitable in the world as long as leaders such as Pol Pot are empowered by their kind -- and as long as those who can make a difference by doing good deeds choose to look the other way. (20)" It took me a little while to get into the novel. It moves from the "present" (her reflections as the book is being written) back to the past. The translation is a little choppy. After reading to the end, I actually flipped back to the begi Cambodia --SE Asia-- (1968-1981) "In the end, I know only that war is inevitable in the world as long as leaders such as Pol Pot are empowered by their kind -- and as long as those who can make a difference by doing good deeds choose to look the other way. (20)" It took me a little while to get into the novel. It moves from the "present" (her reflections as the book is being written) back to the past. The translation is a little choppy. After reading to the end, I actually flipped back to the beginning and re-read the preface for a better sense of closure and understanding of her position. Like the other child-of-war memoirs I've recently read, there are the common themes: choosing to be with family over being separated; being forced to constantly move from one "home" to the next; forming strong bonds with other children when they eventually are separated from family; loss of loved ones; finding people (on both sides) willing to risk their lives to secretly help; and the recognition that events like this are preventable only if people who can do something to stop it stand up and act. I was amazed at this particular story because the author endured this type of existence for six years, eight if you count the first two years when her family had to escape to other family members' home for protection. It's hard to read this sometimes and understand that this actually happened to millions of Cambodians in the recent past. The scenes where the mother is helpless to feed or protect her children were particularly torturous for me. I did enjoy reading about the cultural differences (such as the way they refer to each other verbally, show respect with their eyes and posture, and withhold physical displays of affection). I think its important to read these type of books to understand what is happening outside the safety of our own laws and government, and to put a face on an otherwise distant and out-of-sight problem that is still happening in the world today. -------------------From the Book ------------------- The lack of respect shocks me. Authority is reversed. Guns now mean more than age and wisdom. (67) In this era, the rules are twisted: having education is a crime and honesty doesn't pay. (92) Our village is a social laboratory, a brutal experiment to test if anyone will survive the Khmer Rouge's utopian theory. (108) To weep is to acknowledge what we can't accept. Our minds are already saturated with sorrow. Our silence is our last defense. (120) There is no rewards in our life. To be alive and walking every day, to live through another day, is its own reward in this horrible world. (120) Time has become hard to measure. We mark its passage in terms of who has died and who is still alive. (120) The odds are grim. I face the chance of dying here in camp of an illness I can't control, or risk the punishment of death if I'm caught trying to escaping. (148) I trade food and cruelty for some sense of family. (154) Not everyone has a heart of stone...Not all thrive on the power and cruelty. Some retain a seed of human goodness. (169) I survived starvation, disease, forced labor, and refugee camps. I survived a world of violence and despair. I survived. (15)

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