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The Disappeared (2009)

by Kim Echlin

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3632855,685 (3.75)99
"...Anne Greeves is sixteen years old when she first meets Serey, a Cambodian student and musician forced by his family to leave his country during the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime. Swept up in the fury and infatuation of first love, Anne rebels against her father's wishes and embraces her relationship with Serey...But then the borders of Cambodia are reopened and Serey must risk his life to return home, alone, in search of his family. A decade later, Anne will travel halfway around the world to find him, and to save their relationship from the same tragic forces that first brought them together..."--Cover.… (more)
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English (26)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This book sucked me in and had me staying up late to keep reading. It is written in a floating, lyrical style that is a little disarming at first. I wasn't sure what was unfolding as the storyline but found myself continuing to read to try and understand. Echlin puts you inside the head of a teen girl (and young woman as the story continues) as she navigates a powerful first love. The twist comes as she travels to war-ravaged Cambodia to try to preserve the love. Suddenly, you're in both a love story (obsession being an element) and a war story, immersed in learning about the Pol Pot era in a way that leaves you wanting to look away but unable to do so. A powerful, powerful novel. I'll look for more of Echlin's work. ( )
  jjpseattle | Aug 2, 2020 |
Starts off kind of trite but gets better. The writing is elegant. It handles one of the main characters being from another country alright, but there is still some weirdness. Such as 'he didn't think like an asian' ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
Beautiful novel. A few favorite quotes:

"Memory is a bit of light on a winter wall."

"I have filled in time since the day I lost you. A lifetime of silent pretending.
"If we live long enough, we have to tell, or turn to stone inside. I try to release you from a pit in my heart but unburied and unblessed you imprison me.
"I long for the brush of your fingers on my skin. I long for the light of your eyes. If I pray, I pray to a wounded god. In the end it is only the wounded who endure. In Cambodia they say, Loss will be god's, victory will be the3 devil's." ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
Spare, beautiful, moving, sensual, haunting, disturbing. An incredibly well-written novel, a love story, a recounting of the atrocities in Cambodia, and every parents nightmare! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
This is a lovely book with a harsh subject and I must say, for me, the disconnect between intensely lyrical prose and brutal Cambodian atrocities made this a difficult book overall. Still, the subject is very compelling in a 'get under your skin way' and I'm glad I read it. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Book Title: The Disappeared
Author: Kim Echlin
Copyright date:2009

During the khmer rouge, many lives were lost. Friends, family and loved ones were lost. The Disappeared by Kim Echlin is an insightful book about Cambodia in the times of the Pol Pot Regime. It is a book that outlines all of the emotions of those who lost loved ones during this time. Kim Echlin’s purpose for writing this book was to shed more light to the subject of the Khmer Rouge. Echlin wanted to bring awareness to what happened in Cambodia, and show her readers the things that she was and experienced such as the individual people she meets, and how their stories and emotions affected her.

The book takes place in Quebec, Canada where a young girl named Anne meets a young man named Serey. Serey is from Cambodia but had escaped just before the borders closed. He is in Canada alone and has left his family in Cambodia. He is unable to contact them and has spent years in Canada, not knowing whether his family is alive or not. Serey and Anne fall in love, and Anne is introduced to Khmer culture through music that serey plays for her, and stories that she is told. Years later, when Serey gets an opportunity to travel back to Cambodia and find his family, he leaves Anne in Quebec and ventures back to his homeland. However, Anne, missing Serey, travels to Cambodia to find her love. Anne arrives in Cambodia and is strucken by culture shock as she notices the pain that the country has gone through as well as the current lifestyle of the citizens. After many days of searching, Anne finds Serey and the couple is reunited. They continue living in Cambodia as Anne learns more and more about the country, it’s history, the people and the government. This includes a visit to Toul Sleng, the old school where many horrors of the Khmer rouge took place. Anne becomes friends with an old woman named Chan, who talks about the family she lost during the Khmer Rouge, and a tuk-tuk driver named Mau who helps her on her various journeys around Cambodia.

Throughout the book, and particularly Anne’s time in Cambodia, one thing is obvious; the people in Cambodia were all affected in some way by what happened to their country, many lost loved ones and many had their rights taken away. A theme that is obvious in the book is corruption. Echlin portrays the government in Cambodia as very corrupt. But the people do not want to rise against it because they are scared of the power of the government, as they have seen just what can be done. Serey and many others however, are less scared of the authority, and willing to fight for what they believe is right. However, many of these people were also killed in an effort to suppress any uprisings. I think this is an accurate portrayal of the real events.

Overall, I think that the book, The Disappeared by Kim Echlin raises awareness about the khmer rouge and fairly accurately portrays the events that took place, and the reactions of the people. However, the book is written in the perspective of Anne Greves, and a lot of the book is focused on the relationship between Anne and Serey rather than what is going around them. I think that the book could have been more informative, and possibly more touching to the readers if there was content included about the khmer rouge, and about Anne’s experiences in Cambodia, as I think many readers would be interested in learning about the culture of Cambodia.
I would recommend this book for people who enjoy reading about romances but also like to learn something from their book. This book is an interesting blend of history, culture, and love. This book would be good for those who enjoy traveling and learning about new cultures, as it is a story of a girl who travels halfway around the world and experiences a culture very different from her own.
added by KImberly_Lobbezoo | editNew York Times, Kimberly Lobbezoo
 

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"...Anne Greeves is sixteen years old when she first meets Serey, a Cambodian student and musician forced by his family to leave his country during the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime. Swept up in the fury and infatuation of first love, Anne rebels against her father's wishes and embraces her relationship with Serey...But then the borders of Cambodia are reopened and Serey must risk his life to return home, alone, in search of his family. A decade later, Anne will travel halfway around the world to find him, and to save their relationship from the same tragic forces that first brought them together..."--Cover.

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This story of passionate love between a Canadian and her Cambodian lover evokes their tumultuous relationship in a world of colliding values. Set against the backdrop of horrific loss, these two self-exiled lovers struggle to recreate themselves in a world that rejects their hopes. Spare, unrelenting, and moving, The Disappeared is an unforgettable consideration of love, language, justice, and memory set against the backdrop of the killing fields of Pol Pot.
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