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When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge (edition 2001)

by Chanrithy Him

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241547,848 (4.08)16
Member:kekeres
Title:When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge
Authors:Chanrithy Him
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2001), Paperback, 330 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge by Chanrithy Him

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Showing 5 of 5
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. ( )
1 vote cameling | Apr 17, 2013 |
Like all book about the Khmer Rouge period of Cambodia, Chanrithy's book is evocative and depressing. Many parts of the book are informative and educational, but what sets it apart is her narrative through the eyes of lost childhood. In her account, the reader is pulled into the setting and forced to image a life upside down - where the rules and protection of parents, society and religion are gone and murderous thugs and sycophants have turned the country into a prison.

Highly suggested for anyone interested in learning more about the traumas of genocide. Also provides some valuable insight into Cambodian culture. ( )
  shintamani | Apr 4, 2011 |
Synopsis: Chanrithy Him and her family led a healthy and normal lifestyle in their village until the Khmer Rouge invasion forced their family to work in labour camps and give up their valuable possessions. Faced with malnourishment, starvation and unbearable working hours, Thy and her family become ill frequently and are faced with death daily. A recount of the time Thy spent growing up under the Khmer Rouge.
My Opinion: While the writing was quite snappy and broken, it was an informative book about what it was like growing up under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, a country I previously didn't know much about. ( )
  Moniica | Feb 15, 2011 |
Him, Chanrithy, 1965-/Cambodia > Politics and government >/1975-1979/Political atrocities > Cambodia/Political refugees > Cambodia > Biography/Political refugees > United States >/Biography
  Budzul | Jun 1, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
Him seems to strain to relate the immediacy of a time so long ago. She also tries to impose an adult's logic and values on a world that, to a child, must have seemed impossible, chaotic.
added by justine28 | editThe New York Times, JOSHUA WOLF SHENK (pay site) (Jun 11, 2000)
 
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Pa and Mak,

I honour you.
Chea,

my idol,

who enriched my life.
Tha, Avy, Vin, and Bosaba,

who will live forever

in my memory,

I love and miss you dearly.
For Cheng,

who helped me escape

the death camp.
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I wake, confused.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393322106, Paperback)

"Chea, how come good doesn't win over evil?" young Chanrithy Him asks her sister, after the brutal Khmer Rouge have seized power in Cambodia, but before hunger makes them too weak for philosophy. Chea answers only with a proverb: When good and evil are thrown together into the river of life, first the klok or squash (representing good) will sink, and the armbaeg or broken glass (representing evil) will float. But the broken glass, Chea assures her, never floats for long: "When good appears to lose, it is an opportunity for one to be patient, and become like God."

Before this proverb could come true, Chanrithy had to watch her mother, father, and five of her brothers and sisters die, murdered by the Khmer Rouge or fatally weakened by malnutrition, disease, and overwork. Now living in Oregon, where she studies posttraumatic stress disorder among Cambodian survivors, Chanrithy has written a first-person account of the killing fields that's remarkable for both its unflinching honesty and its refusal to despair. In wrenchingly immediate prose, she describes atrocities the rest of the world might prefer to ignore: her sick yet still breathing mother, thrown along with corpses into a well; a pregnant woman beaten to death with a spade, the baby struggling inside her; a sister impossibly swollen with edema, her starving body leaking fluid from the webbing between her toes.

The mind retreats from horrors like these--and yet what emerges most strongly from this memoir is the triumph of life. Chanrithy is determined to honor her pledge to the dying Chea, to study medicine so she can help others live. When Broken Glass Floats accomplishes the same goal in a different way. "As a survivor, I want to be worthy of the suffering that I endured," Chanrithy writes; by giving such eloquent voice to her dead, she has proven herself more than worthy of her suffering--and theirs. --Chloe Byrne

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:51 -0400)

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Autobiography of a Cambodian refugee.

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