Monday, August 27, 2012

In The Shadow of the Banyan - Book Review

In 1975 the Khmer Rouge "The Revolutionaries" took control of the country of Cambodia. Forcing people from their homes and into work camps, over a million people were brutally murdered by the communists. Vaddey Ratner takes her own personal experience as a child during this time and weaves it into a simultaneously beautiful and horrifying novel, In the Shadow of the Banyan.

The narrator, Raami, is a seven year old girl and the daughter of a royal prince and poet. As her aunt says after they have been driven from their home by the conquering army, "The problem with being seven . . . is that you're aware of so much, and yet you understand so little. So you imagine the worst." Raami does not have to imagine the worst. The worst is bent on destroying her family and a country.

This is not just a tale, it is the story of our shared human history. Our recent history. A history that should be remembered so that it can be prevented in our future. It should take it's proper place with We the Living by Ayn Rand and Dreams of Joy by Lisa See and other books that detail that tragedies that follow evil regimes intent on destroying liberty.

Bringing her own experiences and pain into the story, Ratner excels at creating overwhelming scenes of emotion. She writes with a passion that is rare and the intimate scenes that Raami describes between her parents as they prepare to be separated are exquisite in their intense love and despair. While tragic, In the Shadow of the Banyan is also full of hope. This novel will rip your heart out and then slowly put it back together.

Just trust me on this one. Read In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner as soon as possible.

**I received a complimentary copy of In the Shadow of the Banyan in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received. **


Susan said...

I've heard SO many good things about this one. I need to read it and soon. Thanks for the reminder!

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