Saturday, September 8, 2012

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

5 Star
For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours, bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. Over the next four years, as the Khmer Rouge attempts to strip the population of every shred of individual identity, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of her childhood— the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival. 

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I was first drawn to In The Shadow of the Banyan due to it's colourful yet simple cover. It's exactly the type of art that I love and yes, I often am drawn to books by the cover even though I know it's not always a great way to select something to read. 

But In the Shadow of the Banyan did not disappoint. It was a difficult book to read at times due to the subject matter and especially since it seems like a lot of books with difficult topics have come out these past months. The author definitely was able to portray this story with heartbreaking grace. It was definitely a book that will stick in your heart and mind after you've read it and judging by others' opinions, this is a common reaction to this family's tale.

It's astounding to me the strength that this author must have as a person in order for her to have been able to write a story based on her personal and very difficult, even horrific experiences. And as a first time author too! Her prose and descriptions are absolutely fantastic - it almost feels like you are right there, of course without having to experience the awfulness firsthand. I think it's a credit to her courage that she was able to tell this story and also be so incredibly descriptive that this story really came to life.

I'm very grateful for the chance to hear this story and to share in her experiences and I learned about something that I'd previously had no knowledge of. Despite the fact that this was a very heartbreaking book, it also showed the power of hope and human resilience. I'd say that In the Shadow of a Banyan is a must read.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for our review copy! All opinions are our own.

Connect with Vaddey Ratner here:

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