In the Shadow of the Banyan

In the Shadow of the BanyanIn the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Raami is seven years old when the Khmer Rouge takes over Cambodia in 1975. Born a princess, she is considered on of the enemies of the Revolution. Forced from their city home, Raami’s extended family are taken to one place after another, hiding their royal heritage from the thugs who enforced the Revolutions ideals with guns ad untold cruelty. Creating tie with other people were strictly destroyed, feeling safe in one place wasn’t allowed, families were broken up and scattered throughout the country with no rhyme or reason. Even those in the ‘leadership’ could be suddenly turned on and murdered in the purges the leadership seemed to enjoy. Within five years Raami’s extended family were all dead; Grandmother, father, uncle, aunt, twin cousins and baby sister. No memorials, no funerals, bodies thrown into rice paddy’s or worse.
This is a devastating period of history for the Cambodian people. It was the Communist Party of Kampuchea, formed in 1968 who were victorious in the Cambodian Civil War, where there was a military coup d’état who set up their own government in 1975 led by General Pol Pot. It is considered a period of Cambodian genocide that this book writes about. The aims of the communist government was to turn Cambodia into an agricultural society, but this led to wide spread famine resulting in the death of two million people either through hunger or treatable diseases such as malaria.
This book reveals the depths to which humanity can plunge to. It is an example of courage, great personal strength and sometimes sheer luck that it took to survive. It is a beautifully written novel without flinching away from the brutal truth. Powerful and haunting, this is an own voice book that is well worth the read.

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