When I am looking for Memoir books to read, I often scan the latest memoir books for something that speaks to me. I came across Loung Ung’s book Lulu in the Sky (book 3) and later read First They Killed My Father (book 1) and Lucky Child (book 2). I appreciate her writing a series of books, because I seek to understand how people make it through difficult circumstances and how it impacts them later. Often a book will share feelings not always shared when talking to people one on one. The beauty of writing is that it can capture the heart of our story and the intense emotions and thoughts that exist within us.
Loung Ung’s books share about her horrible experience in Cambodia with the Khmer Rouge and her travels to America. Loung and her family had to leave their home because her father’s work in the government threatened their security. They led secret lives, hiding their status and moved around frequently. They often had little food and lived in fear of dying and losing loved ones. Loung encountered extensive trauma and challenging circumstances, even being trained as a child soldier. As I read about the deep pain she encounters, I am all the more drawn to her spirit and the struggles within. Her two later books, continue her story and her relocation to America. Unfortunately the struggles don’t end, as she adapts to a new culture and the losses of leaving loved ones behind. The last book shares about finding and receiving love and working through her traumatic experiences. Though an extremely difficult read at times, it truly is a story that needs to be shared.
I could relate to the humanity of Loung. Her struggles to make relationships work, to deal with things she wished she didn’t have to experience, and her desire to make a difference out of the darkness. I can’t say I have the ability to fully understand the impact of such trauma which can make it easier for me to ignore the realities of war all around us. Reading memoirs is a way for me to be educated about what is going on (past and present) in different parts of the world and to find a way to make a difference in spite of my fibromyalgia and other limitations. My day-to-day life has been enriched by her books, my ability to see what matters in life, how the small and big things do matter, and how much my life is enriched by people of other cultures and experiences. It makes me aspire to work through my own challenges and being willing to look honestly at things I would rather not face. I am thankful Loung was willing to share her story with us – it won’t be forgotten.