(2013 PEN/Hemingway Award Finalist and a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice)
For seven-year-old Raami, the end of childhood begins when her father comes home in the early dawn hours with news of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh. Soon the family's world of royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of Cambodia's revolution and their forced exodus. Over the next four years, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of her childhood—the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father—and fights for survival against all odds. Rather than a memoir of her own childhood under the horrific Khmer Rouge regime, Vaddey Ratner gives us a novel—her first—as a brilliantly wrought tale of hope and transcendence.
"How is it that so much of this bleak novel is full of beauty, even joy? ... What is remarkable, and honorable, here is the absence of anger, and the capacity—seemingly infinite—for empathy."—NYTBR