The Rent Collector (Hardcover)
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Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Mean Chey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working.
Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the ill-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money — a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one woman's journey to save her son and another woman's chance at redemption. It demonstrates that even in a dump in Cambodia — perhaps especially in a dump in Cambodia — everyone deserves a second chance.
“A beautifully told story about the perseverance of the human spirit.” — Booklist
“An amazing piece of literature, a must read for every book club!” — Sean Covey, New York Times bestselling author
“A rich and rewarding tale of hope!” — Jenny Lyons, The King’s English Bookshop
“. . . Compelling, insightful, and engaging.” — Wendy Ulrich, New York Times bestselling author
“Stunning! A passionately poignant work.” — A. Todd Smith, Emmy-winning director
- 2012 Book of the Year Gold Winner — Foreword Magazine
- 2012 Best Novel of the Year — Whitney Awards
- 2012 Honorable Mention — Great Southwest Book Festival
- 2013 One Read Selection — California Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma Society of Outstanding Women Educators
- Size: 6 x 9
- Pages: 304
- Published: 09/2012
About the Author
Camron Wright holds a master’s degree in writing and public relations. He says he began writing to get out of attending MBA school, and it proved the better decision. His first book, Letters for Emily, was a Readers Choice award winner, as well as a selection of the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild. In addition to North America, Letters for Emily was published in several foreign countries. Camron lives with his wife, Alicyn, in Utah. They are the parents of four children.
I once believed that heroes existed only in old men’s fables, that evil in the world had triumphed over good, and that love—a true, unselfish, and abiding love—could only be found in a little girl’s imagination. I was certain the gods were deaf, that Buddha was forgotten, and that I would never again see the natural beauty of my home province.
It was a time when I learned about shape-shifters, shadows, and redemption; when I finally grasped the meaning of a Chinese proverb whose venerable words still rattle about in my head: The most difficult battles in life are those we fight within.
It was also the year that I came to truly know the Rent Collector.
Beep beep beep.
The steady rumble of uninvited trucks tries to pry into the safety of my dream, a dream in which I am still a child prancing along the trail toward the rice fields where my family works in the Prey Veng province of Cambodia’s countryside. It is a cheerful morning as I pull at my grandfather’s bony fingers, tugging him along while he struggles to keep up.
“Hurry, Ancient Snail,” I say with a smug yet spirited bounce.
“If I am a snail,” he quips, “you are salt, and you’ll soon have to drag my dead and lifeless body back home and explain to the village what you have done!”
I pay him no mind and instead pounce like a frog, jumping from rock to rock along the path.
“Perfect,” I answer, not letting my determination waver. “Everyone in the village loves snail. Tonight, we’ll eat like kings.”
I catch the slightest smile before he heaves a sigh—but then he shuffles to a stop. His gaze sharpens, his head tilts, his attention shifts to the distant countryside. Then we both feel the ground beneath us tremble.
He bends close, squints his eyes at mine, and peeks into my thoughts as though he were the village fortune-teller. I find it unnerving and so I glance down at my bare and dirty toes. He won’t allow it. With a touch from his calloused finger to my chin he raises my gaze. He speaks assuredly, but still with enough grandfatherly giggle trailing in his voice to make certain my little-girl ears pay attention to every smiling syllable.
“Life will not always be so hard or cruel. Our difficulties are but a moment.”
I stare back, trying to make sense of his words, for my life is neither hard nor cruel. I am still too young to recognize that we are poor—that in spite of the grandeur of the province and the hours my family toils each day, we don’t own the land on which we work. I haven’t yet grasped that earning enough money to buy food on the very day we eat it isn’t an adventure embraced by the world.
The rumble grows louder, and Grandfather rocks forward on his toes.
“Remember, Sang Ly. When you find your purpose—and you will find your purpose—never let go. Peace is a product of both patience and persistence.”
How can a child pretend to make sense of such a puzzling phrase?
“Sang Ly,” he repeats, as if he finds eminent joy in the sound of my name, “it starts today. Today is going to be a very lucky day.”
I am tired of the games, tired of his words zipping past like dizzy fireflies. I reach out and latch on to his cheeks, pinching them tightly together. “What are you saying, Grandfather? You don’t make any sense.”
“Sang Ly, the trucks are coming. It is time to go.” His lips continue to move but his voice grows younger, stronger. “Sang Ly, wake up. The trucks are here. It’s time for me to go.”
As my husband, Ki Lim, rocks me awake, it isn’t my grandfather who is sucked away from the safety of a child’s dream. Rather, it is me.
The touch of my husband, the stir of our child, the relentless beeping of the snaking trucks confirm that I am no longer a girl of seven at home in the distant province but a grown woman of twenty-nine living at Stung Meanchey.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper to the dark shape of the man standing over me. “I overslept. I dreamed that I was . . .”
I rub at my eyes. My dreams don’t matter. I was supposed to pack last night’s rice into Ki’s carry tin for today’s lunch. He needed to get an early start, as we must earn an extra 12,000 riel today to have enough to pay the Cow.
“I am sorry,” I say again, seeking his understanding with all the softness and sincerity that a dazed and drowsy wife can muster. “Hurry. Go now, and I will bring your lunch.”
Like Grandfather in my dream, Ki also sighs deeply.
“If you come, please be careful. Watch for needles and stay back, far away from the trucks. You know what happened to Prak Sim.”
I nod, still groggy, but awake enough to wonder if I can lie back down after he leaves, close my eyes, and coax Grandfather’s dreams back into my head—but then the baby cries.
With careful hands, Ki picks up our son, Nisay, from the floor near the foot of our mat where he sleeps and passes him to me. At nearly sixteen months, the child is still small enough that I can carry him in one arm with ease. He should be talking, watching our lips, listening to us repeat his name, mimicking our words with baby laughs and giggles. Instead, when he’s not fussing, his gaze is hollow and distant. His hair is thin and patchy, his little naked belly protrudes below his skinny ribs as though he’s swallowed a ball, and I feel like a neglectful mother every time I take him out onto the city’s streets.
It’s not that we aren’t trying to feed the boy; we beg him to eat. When he does, however, it mostly races through him, flowing out the other end as a never-ending bout of nighttime diarrhea that I scrub off the floor each morning.
“Do we give him the medicine this early?” Ki asks.
“Later, after he eats. It will be easier for him to keep it down.”
“Let’s hope he’s feeling better.” Ki says, before turning toward the sound of the trucks.
“I’m certain of it,” I reply, wanting to tell him about my dream. Instead I wrap our naked baby in a towel and gently rock him in my arms, hoping to settle his cries.
“Please be careful,” Ki repeats as he steps to the canvas curtain that serves as our front door to pull on his boots.
I lift the baby’s broom-handle arm and attempt to wave good-bye to Daddy, but Ki Lim has already stepped outside and is trudging off into the early-morning darkness, answering the incessant siren call of the burping trucks.
“I dreamed again about Grandfather,” I finally whisper to the only one possibly listening, a child now quietly suckling against my chest in the darkness. “Only today it was different.”
I listen to his labored breathing, imagine him tilting back his head and asking, “How? How was the dream about Grandfather different today, Mother?”
I pause instinctively before I answer, waiting just long enough to heighten his interest. “Today was different, Nisay, because before he left, Grandfather promised that it would be a very lucky day.”
When people ask where we live, I tell them we reside alongside the bank of a beautiful river called Stung Meanchey. After all, the name does mean River of Victory. If they know the place at all, they hesitate, smile quizzically, and then we both break out into tremendous laughter, for in spite of being named river, Stung Meanchey is the largest municipal waste dump in Phnom Penh—indeed, in all of Cambodia.
The place is mountainous, covering over 100 acres. Piles of putrid rubbish tower hundreds of feet high, surrounded by constantly shifting valleys that weave and connect like the web of a jungle spider. Navigating its changing paths can be tricky.
I tie my hair behind my head and step outside the structure that we call home: a three-walled shed of sorts that was once used to protect bags of concrete from the rain. It sits atop a small mound at the dump’s northeastern perimeter, slightly elevated above the shacks that lie distant on each side.
Since there are no structures allowed within the center of the dump itself, my view of the place is unobstructed and occasionally quite spectacular, especially after a hard rain has banished the constant haze. In fact, if anyone tries to build a permanent shelter within the dump proper, it is torn down by government workers (hired thugs). As such, the massive kingdom of Stung Meanchey is an encircled fortress, guarded by tin and cardboard castle walls on every perimeter.
I don’t intend to portray the place as miserable or entirely without joy. On the contrary—in spite of its hardships, there are slivers of time when life at the dump feels normal, almost beautiful. Pigs forage in the dirt lanes, children pick teams and play soccer, mothers and fathers banter about their day, babies are born, life presses on.
It is the beautiful times I cherish.
This morning I stand outside and survey my surroundings, hoping to divine what might be in store. The smoke is tolerable, subdued by a brief thundershower last night, and I nod at my distant neighbors already busily about their daily activities. I brush the swarming flies away from our cistern, scoop a pan of water, and then hurry back to clean up our bed mat where Nisay sleeps. He has not been well and so, for many weeks, my first morning job has been to wash away his diarrhea. It may sound disgusting, but in a place of swirling odors, we hardly notice. Frankly, cleaning up his mess is the least of our problems.
I tease that we live by a river, but there is truth to my jest. When the rains come, they leach through the rotting trash, causing foul liquids to ooze, mix, and trickle into noxious streams. The waters splash and then dry, leaving ugly, black stains that won’t go away for days. They cause our skin to rash. Mostly they just stink.
Even though it is not wise to touch such polluted waters, they’re difficult to avoid. You see, we haven’t yet figured out a way to move around this place without touching the ground.
But toxic water is not our greatest danger. That would be the fires.
As I said, today the smoke is tolerable. Other days, it hangs thick in spots, making it impossible to see beyond the first rise of garbage. There is both smoke and fire because as the mountains of garbage around us decompose, they form and trap methane gas. Beneath the weight of the piles, the temperatures rise until the gas ignites and burns. Stung Meanchey is literally always on fire, and it is almost impossible to put out the flames. Monstrous government bulldozers will push the garbage around, hoping to reduce the hazard, but ironically, they don’t care who they run over and bury in the process.
We finally get extended relief from the smoke when the rainy season begins—but then the brown rivers form and . . . well, it is perplexing to live at Stung Meanchey.
We never know whether or not to hope for rain.
The Cow knocks on our door early.
We don’t call her Cow to her face, though I hardly think she would notice or care. She might even wear the title as a badge of honor. Her real name is Sopeap Sin, which means the kind and pretty one. Her parents were delusional and blind.
Sopeap is an abrupt, bitter, angry woman who has lived at Stung Meanchey longer than anyone can remember. There is a story told by some—perhaps myth, perhaps not—that claims she was the illegitimate child of Vadavamukha, a sky god with the body of a man and the head of a horse. (Having a horse-headed father would explain a lot.) The myth says that for years he hid his daughter in a trash can to conceal the evidence of his escapades from his wife, Reak Ksaksar Devy, the blood goddess. One day, however, when Reak became suspicious, Vadavamukha hurled the can from the sky. It landed at Stung Meanchey with Sopeap inside—and she has been here ever since.
Of course, I don’t really believe the myth. A sky god, horse head or not, would never waste a completely good garbage can on Sopeap Sin.
On a rare occasion, the woman will salvage trash like the rest of us. Most days, however, her time is spent sleeping, swearing, or drinking cheap rice wine. Yet at the first of every month—the only time Sopeap seems to be remotely sober—she also collects rent for several landowners from the poor families who live in the huts that circle Stung Meanchey. Besides the Cow, we also call her the Rent Collector.
Sopeap wastes no time.
“You have my money?” she demands, sounding like an angry schoolmaster, the kind who long ago silently smothered patience and concern.
I reach into my pocket and pull out our entire fortune, all the money we have to our name, and hand it over (except for just enough that I have kept out to buy today’s dinner).
She knows better than to waste time counting.
“This is not enough. I need the rest!”
My hesitation betrays a feeble excuse poised on my tongue. She doesn’t wait for my fibs but instead begins to berate me.
“Lazy child! Sang Ly, I have people begging me for this space.”
It would be funny if it weren’t true—not the first part, as Ki and I are anything but lazy, but the fact that others wait to get into Stung Meanchey. It’s a notion that causes me to grin.
“What do you smile at?” she bellows. “If you can’t pay, I will have no choice but to move others into this spot. You foolish girl!”
I want to kick this cow in the udder, but instead I clasp my hands together in a gesture of mercy, a simple plea for understanding.
“We had the money, but Nisay has not been well. We had to buy him medicine this week, American medicine, to see if it would help.”
“Foolishness!” she hisses.
When I’m in a cheerful mood, I will often count the number of times Sopeap uses the word foolish. This morning, however, she is especially irritated, and so I try to be serious.
“We will have our rent today, I assure you. Ki Lim is already out working the trucks. He will gather more than enough.” I straighten and stand tall, attempting to project confidence.
“In a single day? Impossible!” she declares. I nod, but in a circular motion, so as to neither agree nor disagree. She watches my head circle, takes a drink from her bottle, and then swallows hard.
“Sang Ly,” she exclaims irritably, “the landowners expect their money and I have my own obligations.” She turns in disgust, then calls back to me, “I will be back tonight.”
At the dump we don’t take fashion too seriously, but as she waddles away, I clench my teeth to stifle my laughter. No matter the time of year, even in the hottest weather, the woman never removes the hideous brown socks that sag ridiculously around her already thick ankles.
Somehow she senses my amusement because, without turning around, she reinforces her threat.
by Wendy - reviewed on September 28, 2012
This book is written very well. The Rent Collector taught me about the truth of humanity. I am thankful I can read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book
by Veda - reviewed on September 16, 2012
I loved Sang Ly and her attempt to make a better life for her family and those around her even in the most humble conditions. Great job Camron Wright!
enjoyed the book
by Edna - reviewed on October 01, 2012
that book was an eye opener. other cultures are so different than what we are used to reading about. I recommend anyone to read and enjoy this book.
by Sammi - reviewed on September 28, 2012
It was a sad book - only because to read about the trials made it heartbreaking. A truly inspiring story that will make you more appreciative and grateful for the blessings you have.
a page turner
by Melissa - reviewed on September 27, 2012
what a great book. fruendship and differences is a big part. I have recommended to my friends!!!
by Deb - reviewed on September 18, 2012
This book really pulls you into the lives of the people living in such dire circumstances. You realize that no matter your circumstances, you can be your best self and increase in knowledge.
by Janet - reviewed on September 18, 2012
This is one of those books that I will carry in my heart and it will color my life for good. Loved this book.
story of hope
by Sally - reviewed on September 05, 2012
I loved this book It is a wonderful story of hope in the mist of great hardship living in the harsh world of trash picking in Cambodia. I loved the stories, poems and thoughts within the story. I did enjoy reading this book very much
by Nan - reviewed on September 05, 2012
How anyone can live like that is beyond me. It took me a while to get into, but loved every minute since. Thanks for writing and telling her story.
by Jana - reviewed on October 02, 2012
A story well told where the instinct to survive transforms to the desire to thrive. Touching moments of self discovery and acceptance. Worth reading!
Each of us can make a difference!
by Joni - reviewed on September 12, 2012
I agree with the book: It's not important where you live, but how you live. This wonderful story reminds us that each of us has the opportunity and gifts within us to make a difference in someone's life.
I got hooked
by Taylor - reviewed on September 07, 2012
At first I was hesitant to read this book, but once I got into it I got hooked. This story is full of hope and it can apply to anyone's life. It teaches you not to take what you have for granted and to always look for ways to improve. I loved the story!
by Nicole - reviewed on September 12, 2012
This was a very uplifting and eye-opening book. It was amazing to see how people live, but still manage to overcome their obstacles. Very quick read. Camron Wright is a good writer.
thought provoking story that causes deep reflection.
by Customer - reviewed on September 19, 2012
I enjoyed this book far more than expected. Well written and caused me to reflect on the blessings of life and the great importance to bloom where you are planted.
by karen - reviewed on September 23, 2012
I didn't want to put it down. The characters were so well developed by Cameron Wright. To witness the courage, determination, and journey of each of the characters was so rewarding to me as a reader.
The best of both worlds
by Customer - reviewed on August 07, 2012
I love non-fiction more than fiction, I admit. But, if every novel were like THE RENT COLLECTOR, I would be reading many more novels. Camron Wright is a FABULOUS author and I felt like I was just right there in Stung Meanchey. This is a beautiful story of redemption and love and the power of knowledge. Best novel I've read since THE HELP.
by Aaron - reviewed on September 13, 2012
I enjoyed this book because I learned about a different culture and I learned more about literature.
Courage, Hope and Joy
by Laurie - reviewed on September 06, 2012
The Rent Collector is a wonderful story of having hope amidst hardship. We so often see video clips of those in countries that have what seems like so little hope. This book gives us a story behind the faces and shows us that life can be hard but that we can find laughter along with the sadness. Thank you Camron Wright!
The power of reading, even in a dump!
by Amy - reviewed on September 07, 2012
This book raises awareness of the plight of very poor people and what they have to do to survive while at the same time telling a wonderful story of hope and the power of reading to inspire, help and change us. I also thought the plot had interesting twists and surprises.
Wonderful story full of wisdom and insight!
by Debbie - reviewed on September 05, 2012
From the very first page I was intrigued. As the story unfolded I was captivated with how Sopeap evolved from the villian to the hero of the story. The lessons on literature, not judging others, finding joy no matter where you are, and understanding truly what a lucky day is. I loved to be surprised and I surely was as I read this book. I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to learn valuable lessons from a dump in Cambodia.
Akin to The Kite Runner
by Ashley - reviewed on August 07, 2012
I read "The Kite Runner" a few months ago, just before I got a copy of "The Rent Collector." After finishing "TKR," I didn't know if any book could intrigue me, entertain me, or leave me wanting more as much as "TKR," until I got my hands on a review copy of "The Rent Collector." I put this book right up there with "The Kite Runner." I learned about a different culture, couldn't put the book down, and wish there was a second book to this story. Well done Camron Wright. This is the type of book we need more of in this world.
by Joyce - reviewed on August 08, 2012
This is an amazing story of the harsh reality of life in Cambodia. I love Sang Ly and her family and all the struggles they went through to help their son. The "rent collector" herself is a treasure and you come to know and love her too. This book really helps you to appreciate all that we have. I would highly recommend this book to all who are interested in learning about another culture with an excellent story and some interesting surprises at the end.
I loved this book!
by Emilee - reviewed on August 09, 2012
I absolutely loved this book! It was a story about survival, hope and love. It was inspiring! I couldn't put it down for one second. The story made me feel grateful for my life, friends and family. It's amazing how much we take for granted. For example, Sang Ly (main character) was excited about finding a dirty old book that someone threw away. It was the only one she had and she even gave it away later on. I felt that Sang Ly was positive and yet she lived in the worst of circumstances. I can't imagine how dreadful it would be to live in a dump but she made it work for her family. I definitely feel that doing service for others is very important especially after reading about Ly's hardships. I definitely recommend this book to everyone and know that you will enjoy it as much as I did.
by Cathy - reviewed on July 18, 2013
This is a wonderful book! Very touching and inspiring! It was based on an amazing true story about Ki Lim, Sang Ly, and their son Nisay who live in a dump in Cambodia. I ordered the documentary after I finished the book! Highly recommend this book!!
What a difference one book can make!
by Customer - reviewed on September 05, 2012
The Rent Collector is a beautifully written book that shows how any person can be happy in any situation in life. One book has the capacity to make a difference in anybody's life, and in Sang Ly's case, it was a children's book that she couldn't understand. I will definitly pick up the next book Camron decides to write.
Wonderful story of hope and faith.
by maggie - reviewed on September 05, 2012
I really enjoyed reading this book, and would recommend it to anyone who loves stories of faith, courage, hope, and endurance. Although it is ficton, the people talked about in the book really do live this way. Hard for me to accept that people could or are forced to live like this. Cried when I read the part that gave the "rent collectors" story of how she ended up in the dumb. Read this book - soon.
This book is about hope.
by Marie - reviewed on September 06, 2012
Every once in a while a book comes along that makes you read each page with new eyes. This book did that for me. We get so complacent with our own world, we forget that out there our fellow men have struggles beyond imagination. Yet, the human spirit, that drive to overcome circumstances, provides an incredible lesson for hope and drive and arising above the muck and despair. This book is about that hope.
Inspiring Story of Hope and Happiness
by Monica - reviewed on September 06, 2012
The Rent Collector is based on an amazing true story about Ki Lim, Sang Ly, and their son Nisay. Their story takes place in a dump in Cambodia where they scratch out an existence that is hardly conceivable to me. Sang Ly shows that it does not matter where you live or your circumstances, there is always a way to find hope and happiness.
A story with many layers!
by Angela - reviewed on September 10, 2012
Totally enjoyed this book! Although "fiction" the main character is an inspiration to hope! This is truly a good book! A must read!
WONDERFUL! couldn't put it down
by Marta - reviewed on September 05, 2012
I picked this book up on a Wednesday morning and wished that I didn't have to work, because all I could think about was finding out what was going to happen. The layers of meaning in this book were so intriguing. Friday morning I was able to finally think about something else, I loved it! What a thought provoking, gratitude evoking journey.
Loved this book
by calli - reviewed on September 06, 2012
This book about Life in a cambodian dump is very eye opening.
by Customer - reviewed on September 06, 2012
I really enjoyed the fact that this book had a little bit of everything; it was funny, touching, soul searching, scary, just the whole package. I loved the story and everything, just everything that happened around the characters' lives. A must read.
An amazing book that shows a lot of history
by Laura - reviewed on September 05, 2012
This book was really good. I thought it was cool how Sopeap was so mysterious and I thought of her as just a mean old lady by she has many layers. This book taught me that I always need to make the best with what I have and that worldly possessions don't really matter. There were some sad parts but that made it such a food book.
by Mary Jane - reviewed on September 05, 2012
I love books that help me be better. A book that tugs on my concience or or helps deveolope a personal trait. This book was all that and more. You learn about a deeper gratitude than most of us have. It is about finding joy in small things, and the desire to be better in the most devistating circumstanse. Absolutely one of the best reads ever!
Beautiful story of Hope and Redemption
by Suzanne - reviewed on September 05, 2012
Camron Wright has written a beautiful story of Hope and Redemption, even while experiencing life in a waste dump. The character development is uplifting as we discover that even one soul is of worth.
Powerful uplifting story
by Sherry - reviewed on September 06, 2012
The Rent Collector is one of the best fiction stories that has come out in awhile. It is very well written. A powerful uplifting story of hope, love and redemption. You will have a hard time putting this one down.
I was very surprised!
by Mary - reviewed on September 07, 2012
What an amazing story of overcoming obstacles, learning to make the best of any situation and a great reminder that we shouldn't take for granted the blessings of the life we live. I found myself first hating and judging the "rent collector" but as the story moved along I came to know her and feel compassion and love for her right along with Sung Ly. This is a real must read!
I loved this book
by PAT - reviewed on September 05, 2012
This was one of the best books I have ever read. It had so many twists and turns. It makes you think about not being judgemental of others. What a great surprising ending.
A story of hope, redemption and giving
by Mark - reviewed on September 08, 2012
Just how valuable is a book? And what order of magnitude is the blessing of being able to read? Literacy and access to books are things most of us take for granted. But for Sang Ly, one of the many heroes of The Rent Collector, books and the ability to read them become something special as she seeks for a path out of the desperate living conditions she, her husband, and young child endure. The dump of Sung Meanchey is a metaphor for the misery anyone suffers who is shackled by illiteracy. The reluctant heroism of Sopeap Sin, an embittered drunk reminds us that we find redemption by giving back when we receive undeserved grace. Read this book. Cry. Breathe. Then make a generous donation to ChaptersOfHope.com so that children everywhere have books and an escape from misery.
Illicits empathy while being entertained
by Shawna - reviewed on September 09, 2012
Puts the reader right in the middle of the dangers, taking care of a sickly baby, and cheering for their progress and accomplishments. A story that keeps the reader interested.
I like this book and was compelled to read it quickly.
by Customer - reviewed on September 10, 2012
I thought this was a fascinating book. It draws a person in quite quickly and although it's not my typical type of book,there were many tender and educational parts to the story that I enjoyed. I have a son who is a poet and a writer and I bought the book immediately to send to him.
A well written thought provoking novel
by Paula - reviewed on August 23, 2012
I loved this book! It is a story of hope in the midst of despair. There are so many lessons in this book that it is a must read. I love a book that makes me think about what I'm reading and this is just such a book. The writing style is light and at times funny. It is amazing and I would recommend it to all.
Sad but True-To-Life Experience
by Leslie - reviewed on September 05, 2012
The underlying mystery of WHO the Rent Collector really is, & what makes her tick, keeps this saga of a family living in the squallor of a huge city dump in Phnom-Penn, Cambodia from being overwhelmingly depressing. The fact is: among the array of difficulties in just day-to-day living, there is hope & love & learning growing along with the fears, challenges, & bacterium!
Uplifting and filled with hope and compassion
by Hanalee - reviewed on September 05, 2012
Loved reading this book it was very inspiring. I feel like there are few books out there that not only touches your heart but reminds you to be grateful for what you have. Great for male or female and would be great for a book club! Pick it up, you won't regret it!!
by Lacey - reviewed on September 05, 2012
Initally this book didn't spark my interest however I decided to give it a chance. I'm so glad I did. What an eye opening and captiviating read about the people in Cambodia. You can't help but fall in love with the characters. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
Incredible, absolutely incredible
by Kevin - reviewed on August 30, 2012
This book is so much more than a story. It is based on real people in real situations. But it's more than just about a person living in a dump in a far-off foreign country. It is about humanity. It is about you and me. It is about the soul. No matter what situation you are in, you can still connect with this book because it speaks to the common thread we all share inside of us. This is a book worth reading over and over again.
Not a sad story!
by Gayle - reviewed on September 05, 2012
When I first picked up this book I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this sad story. I am so glad I decided too. This story is a story of hope, contentment,survial and happiness. How can a story about living in a dump be about happiness you ask? Read the book!! This story will wake you up to your blessings, that we at most times take for granted, and what is really important in life.
a story of hope
by paula - reviewed on September 05, 2012
I loved the story. The book had me from the first page and I thought it showed us we can be happy with whatever we have. We can be happy whatever our circumstances are and whereever we live. i thought it was a very good story of HOPE.
Best Book Ever!
by Barbara - reviewed on September 06, 2012
When you read alot and an exceptional book like this comes along, you know it within the first chapter. Compeling and life changing, Sang Ly became my hero.
by Kimberly - reviewed on September 06, 2012
I am a busy mom and work, Reading is hard to do, But this is for me. Reading the Rent Collector fiction story, but in real life survial to some people, opens your eyes to what is really important and to be grateful for what you have. More is not always better. This is a MUST READ book.
a wonderful book on hope.
by Holly - reviewed on September 06, 2012
I loved this book. What a story,I can't believe the conditions they live in but they lived with it and tried their best to take care of the needs of their family. The book makes you apprecite what you have and be happy with it. This book gives us hope to be able to endure anything. I would highly recommend this book.
by Mary - reviewed on September 05, 2012
A very touching story of growth and overcoming no matter what your condition. A must read for everyone who has ever faced someone who they thought was only put on this earth to antagonize them!!
by Trudi - reviewed on September 05, 2012
I so enjoyed reading this book. It has a very special spirit about it.
by Michele - reviewed on September 06, 2012
This is an amazing story of hope, courage, and love. It reminded me again that no matter our circumstances we can improve our situations if we are willing to work. I also enjoyed learning a little about Cambodia which I was not very familiar with before. Will definitely want to read this book again in the future.
by dana - reviewed on September 13, 2012
I enjoyed this book. It is a great book about redemption, love, hope, and sacrifice. It is hard to put down.
Great story of Hope!
by K - reviewed on September 04, 2012
I loved this book. I have to admit I was between books and wasn't sure one was going to capture me as much as the last one I read, but this one sure did! I loved Sang Ly's story, her family and even Stung Meanchey. I also loved all the literature that was brought into the story. It was wonderful! Highly recommend this book for yourself or a book group. In fact, it would be a great pick for a book group.
Love Hope Redemption
by Lucinda - reviewed on September 05, 2012
I just finished The Rent Collector. This was a good book from the start. By the time I finished, it was a great book. At first I thought there should have been more description of the horrors of the dump but by the end I think it would have over shadowed the characters and who they were, where ever they lived. This is a story about love, hope, redemption, and the never ending struggle which is life. This is a book to savor, drink in, and experience the characters’ lives through your own.
Best Book of the Year
by Rachael - reviewed on September 05, 2012
I picked up this book not knowing the amazing real life background and, thinking it was all fictional, I thought it was amazing. Then, to discover the photos of the actual family at the end of the book, made my reading feel more meaningful and inspiring. This is a story of hope, literacy, and the good hidden within each person. To say this book was the best I read this year does not even do it justice, I think it is the best piece of literature I have read since AP English in high school. A MUST read for sure.
An uplifting reaffirming journey
by Bryce - reviewed on September 05, 2012
Although the Rent Collector is fiction, individuals in the book really do exist. The story takes place on the fringes of the largest garbage dump in Cambodia. Families live there in shacks and scrounge through the garbage daily to find enough sellable items to purchase food for the day and to pay the rent on their shacks. The conditions are deplorable but the characters are happy and growing despite it all. This book is full of wisdom and of humor. I wished I had read it with an underliner in hand.
Knowledge is gained through the power of the written word!
by Richard - reviewed on September 05, 2012
This is the best book I have read lately. It is an incredible story about how important it is to learn to read and the power of the written word. I loved the rent collector, Sopeap, and how she found meaning to her life by serving and sharing her knowledge. There were so many profound quotes but one that I really like was "it doesn't matter where you live but how you live your live." Marcia
A book full of "telling lessons"
by Marianne - reviewed on September 06, 2012
A gem of a read! Makes you want to meet the people Camron Wright based this book on. Who knew that a story set in a dump could provide so many bits of inspiration. You'll love how it reminds us that even the seemingly most simplistic life stories have much more to offer when we delve in deeper.
Best book of the YEAR!
by Shauna - reviewed on September 06, 2012
This book is one of those amazing, change-your-life, kind of stories. A woman, living in a dump, wants to learn how to read so she can better herself and her family's situation. Who can teach her? The one who sharply demands the rent each month. Over the course of time these two women learn a lot about each other and the world of literature. The woman discovers things she can do for herself without having to ask anyone else...like which bus to take, or where the doctor's office is, or how to better her family life. She also discovers a side of the "rent collector" that no one else ever knew. As I was reading I realized how much I take reading for granted. How blessed we are...those of us who LOVE to read...to have the whole world at our fingertips...even if we sometimes read to escape where we are in life. This book is based on a true story.
Makes you feel grateful for your life
by Customer - reviewed on September 06, 2012
This book, although wasn't my favorite book I've read, was very inspirational. The struggles this family goes through and the compassion shared in such a desolate living condition struck me so hard. It made me really sit and think about my life and what I can be more grateful for. Even though the family didn't worship the God I worship, this story brought me closer to my God and made me want to reach out to those around me more. The thing I didn't really like very much was that there were a couple of sexual innuendos and it took me off guard. It wasn't anything like the TV shows or movies that are out today, but it took me off guard and kind of made me feel uncomfortable because it wasn't supposed to be a book about romance or anything.
One of the best I've read in a long time
by Cindy - reviewed on September 07, 2012
I was hooked from word one of this compelling story. The author did an amazing job conveying without pity, yet compassionately, the life of the people living at Stung Meanchey. The characters could have been my friends, family, and neighbors even though their outward circumstances were so different. The Rent Collector was uplifting and humbling. It made me want to live my own life a little better. What more can you ask of a book?
A Wonderful Surprise!
by Susan - reviewed on September 07, 2012
This is a very well written life changer. It has everything, humor,love,anger, hope and compassion. You find yourself learning and growing along with the people in the book. It had a beautiful ending that will bring tears to your eyes.
My kind of inspirational book!
by Tyler - reviewed on September 08, 2012
I love books that make you think and that teach you about life. This book helped satisfy both of those needs. The Rent Collector was great for helping me to realize the blessings that I have, and making the most out of it. I loved the optimism and the hope that the main character shares. She has such drive and so much faith. Its one of those books where you can't put it down, and that you can't stop thinking about once you do. LOVED IT!
Good Food For Thought
by Janis - reviewed on September 08, 2012
In reading the Rent Collector the old phrase comes to my mind, "Don't judge a book by it cover". The Rent Collector(Sopeap Sin)was really not what she appeared. Sang Ly was willing to break down those walls to find out who the Rent Collector really was, and the reasons why she was abrupt, bitter, and angry. Not as easy task. Which in turn was a reward to many. Sang Ly was able to find simple ways to be positive while living in a dump. I know I can be more grateful, and find the good in my given circumstances. This book gave me new ways to look at things and situations.
A captivating story of life in a Cambodian dump which reminds us all of the inate desire to make things better for our children.
by Shirlene - reviewed on September 11, 2012
This story, based on true events, makes all of us aware of the basic necessities of life that we take for granted. In the voice of a Cambodian women, the author tells a captivating tale with unexpected consequences. The authors references to literature were particulary enlightening. There does seem to be an inate desire in all humanity to make life better for their posterity.
An amazing, touching piece of literature.
by Camla - reviewed on September 15, 2012
This is truly an exceptional read. I have not read a book so engaging in a very long time. I fell completely in love with the "rent collector." This book is true literature with wonderful feeling, beautiful words and meaning. I highly recommend this book. Camla
Hard to imagine such a life.
by Gayle - reviewed on September 07, 2012
When I first started The Rent Collector, I almost had to stop reading, I felt so sad about the circumstances of Sang Ly and her family. Seemed like there would be no hope for them. As Sang Ly discovered something about the Rent Collector and they started to know something of each other, I was impressed with Sang Ly's determination and persistence. I really liked the historical side, learning more about Cambodia and its people, as well as seeing Sang Ly have a new world opened to her eyes through literature. Really, it is a book about hope.
Great story of love, hope and redemption!
by Tawni - reviewed on September 07, 2012
When I started reading this book I wasn't sure I was going to like it. After I finished it, I ended up loving it. I would recommend to anyone.Great Read!!
Hope,.Redemption, Literacy, Love!
by anna - reviewed on September 09, 2012
Hope! Redemption! Literacy! Love! That's what The Rent Collector is all about. It is a novel based on truth and trials and rising out of circumstantial ashes. The main character is a model of resilience and growth against actual odds. It is even more impressive to know that she is a real person! Years ago I read Letters for Emily. It has stayed in my mind all these years, so I was thrilled when Cameron came out with The Rent Collector. It is just as memorable!
It was fantastic
by Mary - reviewed on September 09, 2012
This was an awesome book. What the family had to go thru and try to make ends meet living in a garbage dump. Then have the rent collector come and collect money from you which you didn't have. Sung ly what she did for her family and try to save her little boy. Then she had the courage to ask the rent collector to teach her to read. It was so amazing how they learned to love each other and all that she learned and taught other people. Everyone should read this book
Truly profound and poetic.
by Customer - reviewed on September 10, 2012
This book is masterfully written and inspiring. A BEAUTIFUL STORY of hope, love and sacrifice. I could read it again and again to "discover even more layers" to the story!
Sad, so sad, but there is always hope and love even in a dump!
by Kymberlee - reviewed on September 11, 2012
This book was an eye opener for me. It is incredible what some people have to go through just to pay for a self made shack in a dump. The Ki Lim and Sang Ly are amazing parents willing to do whatever it takes to help there son live and be healthy! Sand Ly is so brave to ask the "Rent Collector" for the help she needs to make a better life for her son and in the end for herself. She has the opportunity to really learn from a true teacher and she never slacks on that responsibility. She also helps the "Rent Collector" learn a few things and become the person she used to be. There are hard times for this couple but they get throught them together and with the help of their "family" they have at the Stung Meanchey dump! Highly recommend this read!
A very moving story about everyday life
by Sheryl - reviewed on September 10, 2012
This book was fabulous! The story is very believable and true to life. Although it took place in the Stung Meanchey waste dump in Cambodia it could be about many of the struggles we face in our own lives. I was very moved by Sang Ly’s out of nowhere desire to learn to read. Even a garbage picker can reach for the stars. That in turn led to a discovery and study of literature. What do you think "Literature" really is? The universality of life, literature, friendship, family struggles and personal achievements was very, very well portrayed. I would definitely recommend this to anyone. I love to read books about real people and real life. Thank you Cameron Wright. Pick it up and enjoy every word!
Worth reading and savoring
by Cathy - reviewed on September 10, 2012
This is a book to be read slowly and savored. The lessons are as many as there are layers to the story. I had never heard of Stung Meanchey before I read this book; then I did researach on the Cambodian garbage dump afterwards. How humans could let people live like this is beyond me. This is beautifully written and shows the blessings that come with hope, learning to read, and learning that how you live is more important than where you live.
Even in the midst of hopelessness, love, knowledge and beauty can be found.
by Laurie - reviewed on September 10, 2012
I was hesitant to read a book about Cambodia, knowing portions of it's tragic history, but what lessons I've learned from The Rent Collector! Sang Ly's thirst for words, their meaning, and a better life show how even in the midst of hopeless conditions, seeds of love, knowledge and beauty can be found. We all know a Sang Ly and Sopeap. I will look more carefully for them. My gratitude for those who create the written word and those who understand it is deep. Cameron Wright, thank you!
Surprising, Inspiring, and Enjoyable.
by Sharon - reviewed on September 12, 2012
When I first picked up The Rent Collector I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it. It resembled a book they would make you read in an English class in High School. Then I started reading and I was surprised at how good it was. The story pulled you in and you really wanted to know what was going to happen to each of the characters in the book. I enjoyed watching each character change and evolve as the story progressed. It was interesting to watch how the actions of the characters impacted those around them. You will learn a lot about human relationships and people from reading this book. It will open your mind to a wider world view and help you to understand what other people are going though. This is a good book to help put your life in perspective. If you are looking for a book that will teach you about human relationships and help you to become a better person then I would definitely suggest that you read The Rent Collector.
A Must-Read Novel
by Lexie - reviewed on September 12, 2012
What a story, living in a dump and salvaging anything you can find to feed your family, what a life. MAny lessons to be learned through this family's experiences, lessons we can all learn. Everyone should read this book, it will make you grateful for what you have and appreciate the life you live.
The power of the one.
by margie - reviewed on September 12, 2012
The story of this family living in Cambodia in most undesireable conditions is one of survival, hopes and dreams. The twists and turns keep the story evolving and ultimately it all comes back around to the beginning. From the first page to the last, the reader can see the power in the one and what a difference we can all make in each others lives.
A Powerful Story...
by Shannon - reviewed on September 13, 2012
I was intrigued the minute I read the back cover, and I stayed intrigued from the first page to the last! I was moved by this true story of a mother and a wife trying to make the best of her sad situation and take care of her family. It is a great read for anyone who wants a good story to restore your faith in the goodness of people and a reminder that everyone has a story to tell.
Count your blessings
by Judy - reviewed on September 13, 2012
I didn't think I would like this book but really enjoyed it. It kept my attention throughout. It's a story of courage and love and a mother's fight for her child against all odds, and trying to find a way so he has hope for his future. I can't imagine a life as miserable as this...living and working in a garbage dump to make a living. Makes me feel very blessed.
hope is stronger than trash
by SHERYL - reviewed on September 14, 2012
the RENT COLLECTOR is a powerful book. Sang Ly has nothing in this world that anyone should be jealous of, but she has the wisdom to see all the possibilities around her, and she can see good in the horrible world in which she lives. She also has the courage to dream, in a place that should grind draems out of a person. She wants to learn to read, she wants her son to be healthy, and she wants a better life for her son. The best part of the book for me was her willingness to work to accomplish all her dreams.
Fantastic, inspirational book.
by Lorna - reviewed on September 14, 2012
I loved this book. Sang Ly and Sopeap Sin were both very inspiring women. Sopeap Sin had such an interesting, sad life story. Sang Ly was able to bring out the good in Sopeap Sin and give her a reason to live again. Sang Ly gave Sopeap Sin a gift of accomplishment and meaning towards the end of her life, and Sopeap Sin gave Sang Ly a wonderful gift that will affect generations to come for good. It seems that no matter what our circumstances in life, we all can do something worthwhile and meaningful!
A novel that should be in everyone's home.
by Emily - reviewed on September 14, 2012
This was a fantastic book that takes you on a journey of continuous learning. You feel that you have grasped the meaning of the book, and then you learn something new and the meaning continues to grow. This was a wonderful story that has made me rethink what I read and how I read it.
Exotic Journey of Hope
by Brock - reviewed on September 15, 2012
Like travel, a good book should change you. This book takes you on an emotional journey to an exotic place. Once you make the journey your heart will forever be changed. Through the eyes of Sang Li we come to understand that everyone, even those who sift through discarded refuse, have a story of hope and desire. The prose is well paced with vivid detail that moves the emotional story forward with every chapter. Although the voice sometimes seems more educated than the character portrayed, the wisdom found in its pages is worth overlooking that blemish. It is an easy read that reminds us that no matter where we travel in the world, the human condition is more alike than it is different, and that when we search for it, we can find hope, even in the municipal dump.
hope rises like a phoenix
by Phil - reviewed on September 14, 2012
i really enjoyed the use of historical events to tell this story. the people of cambodia have had to live trough much devastation due do the reign of the khmer rouge over three decades ago. life can go on and those who are opressed do thirst for education. this is good reality check for those of us who take much for granted.
Discovering who we are in the midst of a sea of garbage
by Sierra - reviewed on September 16, 2012
An amazing story about discovering who we are in the midst of a sea of garbage, that words truly do have the power to change lives, and that everyone has a story worth telling. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone!
very good and eye-opening
by Kylie - reviewed on September 16, 2012
This book really made me so thankful for what I do have and has made me a better person! Also it taught me to not judge people by their outside appearance! I don't know what someone is going through or went through in their life to make them mean or a drunk or anything like that! I will think twice about judging someone so easily and think about what maybe they have been through!
I love good literature!
by Lana - reviewed on September 18, 2012
Camron Wright has such a great writing style. I like how he incorporates thought provoking words and humor. I love quotes such as: "I distance myself from Heaven and then complain that Heaven is distant." I would recommend this book to anyone!
by Ashley - reviewed on September 21, 2012
This book was very inspiring and amazing. The idea that people actually work in this type of a situation is crazy to think about. This book made me really think about what I have and to appreciate what I don't have to work in and sleep in. That these people save and earn all their money just to give it up when the Rent Collector comes; and the fact they give it up to stay in the room with only three walls makes me sick to my stomach. I love the main woman's view throughout the book, she stays very positive and doesn't give up on her reading when she has every reason to do so. I loved this book.
by Terrie - reviewed on September 21, 2012
I enjoyed the story and the history it gives. I like how Sang Ly is determined to help her son and family any way she can. She has great courage and is able to look past the outside and see a persons true self. I like how the friendship helped both ladies.
Could not put it down!
by Kris - reviewed on September 22, 2012
This book was a surprise from beginning to end. Who knew you could find so much uplifting material in a dump? I read it a week ago, and still find myself thinking (and smiling) when I think of the characters in this book. A very must read!!
Moved my soul
by Jessica - reviewed on September 22, 2012
I was incredibly touched by this story of hope and redemption between two people and an unexpected friendship. The circumstances in the book helped me be more grateful for my own blessings. I was moved by the language of the book and the description included of what it means to learn from literature. A must-read if you want something that will help you see beyond your own world. It's a book you won't want to put down.
Moved my soul
by Jessica - reviewed on September 22, 2012
I was incredibly touched by this story of hope and redemption between two people and an unexpected friendship. The circumstances in the book helped me be more grateful for my own blessings. I was moved by the language of the book and the description included of what it means to learn from literature. A must-read if you want something that will help you see beyond your own world. It's a book you won't want to put down.
by Michelle - reviewed on September 17, 2012
Hope. Hope is the main thing I think of after reading this book. It made me realize that no matter what our circumstances are we can have hope. We only need to change our attitude and our outlook. When I first started reading this I feared it would be depressing but it turned out quite the opposite. Laughing, crying, and pure hope was felt in abundance even in a dump. I highly recommend reading this book!
by Sylvia - reviewed on September 19, 2012
I really enjoyed this book. It helped me see ho.w my life is so blessed. It helped me want to become a better person. My husband was in Cambodia for two years and he said it was very much like life there
hope can exist in all circumstances
by Karla - reviewed on September 19, 2012
I am so inspired by this book. It was such a touching story of hope and looking for the good in even the worst of circumstances or people. It is written in a very compelling way. It's a subject that at first you don't think you want to read because of the sadness and despair you feel if you were placed living in those dire experiences and conditions. Yet Sang Ly is hopeful for a brighter future for her son, husband and herself. She lifted others because of her desire for a better life. To truly look for the good in others. It makes me so grateful for what I have and should never be found complaining or whining .
The Rent Collector was one of the best books I have ever read!
by Customer - reviewed on September 19, 2012
The Rent Collector was one of the best books I have ever read! Camron Wright is so good at holding a readers attention from beginning to end. Although fiction, it almost felt like a suspense. It's so nice to read a good, clean book that has so much meaning to it.
by Addison - reviewed on September 19, 2012
This book is absolutely amazing! It makes you take a step back and look at your own life and realize just how grateful you should be. It also has a promising message of hope, and teaches you to look at the simple things of life and not judge others by their appearance! I absolutely LOVED the book and would recommend it to anyone that's looking for a good read!
by Connie - reviewed on September 20, 2012
I started this book as a curiosity read, but soon became so engrossed in the story of Sang Ly and Sopeap. The fact that it was based on true accouts made it even more unbelievable and proof that the human spirit is unstoppable. Loved the twist at the end, so creatively done! Loved it!
Amazing and Inspiring
by Darrin - reviewed on September 20, 2012
I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this book because it seemed like it would be a depressing subject. But this is an amazing book about the power of knowledge; a very inspirational story about hope and finding happiness in any circumstance. It helps you see how we’re all the same no matter what our circumstances. It was very well written and not overly emotional. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and plan on sharing it with my family.
A greater appreciation
by Kandice - reviewed on September 20, 2012
Not a book I would normally pick up to read, but so glad I did!! very well written with great caricatures. love the "fruit" analogy and the stories! The little humor made it that much more enjoyable, but overall gave me a greater appreciation for everything in my life especially the gift of knowledge and the power to read! Well don Camron Wright!!
A book full of hope
by Allyn - reviewed on September 20, 2012
This story takes place in a dump in Cambodia, where people who have lost hope (including the narrator Sang Ly), pick through garbage to stay alive. But Sang Ly learns from the mean old Rent Collector, how to read, and with this relationship springs forth a fountain of hope for the people. Not only is it a powerful and moving story, but lessons are learned and can be applied into our own lives.
by Marren - reviewed on September 23, 2012
I was hesitant to start this book. Nothing about it appealed to me. Then I had heard some of my friends rave about it, I decided once more to give it a try. I glad I did. There are people all over the world without an opportunity to learn to read. Even right in our own country. Learning to read is one of those things that sometimes we take for granted. Not in this book. The Rent Collector was also a Literature Professor. Sopeap is asked by Sang Ly to teach her to read. What starts as a possible bad idea soon changes lives forever. I love the quote Sang Ly said of her grandfather: "If you know a lot, know enough to make people respect you. If you are stupid, be stupid enough so they pity you." As for anyone, learning to read opens up the world. Take the time to pick up this marvelous book. You won't regret it nor will you take reading for granted.
All in the quotes
by Mark - reviewed on September 24, 2012
This book was a perfect reminder of why I chose to study literature, and it would be a great primer for those just being introduced to it. The impression this story gave me could be summed up with the Hemingway quote recited by the titular character: "All good books have one thing in common - they're truer than if they had really happened."
Life altering book.
by Penny - reviewed on September 23, 2012
This was truly an amazing Book . To think that people live life like this and can still find happiness.But in a few short pages we learned about Understanding, Judging, Sickness, Faith, Friendship, Sacrifice and Love. And then we learned about Hope. I Loved this Book.
Started slow but ending made it worth it!
by Jana - reviewed on September 24, 2012
As I started the book, I was sad at the living conditions of the family. The main character was mean and onery. I felt frustrated at the situation they lived in. I felt like their situation was hopeless and that is was never going to end. The course of the book helped me see that there was hope even for the worst situations in life.
A Closer Look At Reality
by Elyse - reviewed on September 25, 2012
I was really surprised by how fast this book sucked me in. Having spent time myself in third world countries with harsh living circumstances, I was captivated by the story of Sang Ly. Wright does an incredible job of weaving an intricately layered story into a reality for readers. There are wonderful messages of hope, faith, forgiveness, and redemption. I would suggest it to anyone looking for a thought-provoking read that will help you look into the impoverished life of millions and recognize that materials aren't everything.
Thought provoking and loved it
by Becky - reviewed on September 24, 2012
I really love this great book and I his book " Letters to Emily". I don't want to tell much about it as to not spoil it for you. It brings you into a very interesting weave of a story along with great bits of literature woven in. The characters are true to life and the story touches your heart. It pulled me in and I read it in just a couple of days.
Great, Unique Book With A Wonderful Message.
by Jill - reviewed on September 24, 2012
This isn't the type of book that I typically read but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a great story about hope, not judging a book by it's cover, and the importance of a positive perspective. It also helped me to really just how lucky and blessed I am to live the life that I have.
Boring and depressing with a hint of heart warming goodness.
by Jon - reviewed on September 24, 2012
It had a great message, one of hope and love, but it left me feeling sad that people would be so irresponsible as to bring a child into the world knowing that it would have to live in those deplorable conditions.
by Jennifer - reviewed on September 25, 2012
I just read this awesome book. Its based on a true story of a woman and her family that live in a dump in Cambodia. It's an incredible story about what they go through and makes you appreciate what you have so much. A great read if you are looking for a book! I loved it and it has an amazing ending! You'll love it!
Would encourage other to read it
by Suzette - reviewed on September 25, 2012
Very glad I was encouraged to read this book! At first I thought it would be harsh to read, but it opened by thoughts and emotions to so much more. It was a great book on hope and the human spirit. Have shared it with other friends and I would encourage anyone to read it.
this is a book you don't want to put down
by Sheri - reviewed on September 25, 2012
I loved this book. It is a great story of hope and courage in horrific circumstances and the author manages to wrap it all up with a happy ending. I loved the characters and the twists in the plot as well.
by Jenny - reviewed on September 26, 2012
Camron Wright's, book is beautiful, cleansing, and sweet. With a sweetness that is tangible. I love the simplicity and beauty with which he writes! When you think you might predict the outcome, you swing into a completely different space, unpredictable, and beautiful. It will make you weep. This book will stay with you after your done, as all great books do. I would love to see this book become a national bestseller, like his previous book. Here's a taste. "I don't mean to be a skeptic, to lack hope, or to harbor fear. However, experience has been my diligent teacher. Still, I hate it. I don't want to raise a child of doubt. I want my son to believe, to hope, to dream that the future holds brighter days. Grandfather, where is the balance between humbly accepting our lifes trials and pleading toward heaven for help, begging for a better tomorrow? And then Sopeap's lesson drops out of hiding and into my head. "Whether we like it or not, hope is written so deeply into our hearts that we just can't help ourselves, no matter how hard we try otherwise.""
Historical Fiction of life living on a Cambodian landfill overcoming difficult circumstances.
by Craig - reviewed on September 26, 2012
One of the best Historical Fictions I have read. Well written, great thoughts and feelings as a Woman living in some of the worst condidtions immaginable creates a whole new life for herself and family, by learning to read and bringing to life the world around her. It is also about the Rent Collector, who is the Teacher that brings this new life of literature to this Woman and her family.
Loved it, Great book
by Becky - reviewed on September 26, 2012
]I really love this great book and I loved her book ASIN:0743444477 Letters for Emily]. I don't want to tell much about it as to not spoil it for you. It brings you into a very interesting weave of a story along with great bits of literature woven in. The characters are true to life and the story touches your heart.
Dose Oprah still have her "Oprah's Book Club
by Customer - reviewed on September 26, 2012
This book is great. I think its worthy to be in Oprah Book club. The Rent Collector is a store of Hope and Redemption. Two women's journy. Journy that most of us have never even thought about, but still some way we might relate to.
One of the best reads from Deseret Book!
by Nedra - reviewed on September 30, 2012
The Rent Collector is one of the best novels I have read from Deseret Book. A page turner, and I could not put it down. Such an example of the strength of the human spirit, and so well written. I found Camron Wright's writing so inspiring that I underlined many of the paragraphs, and quotes. This book should be made into a movie.
Literature at its best!
by Wendy - reviewed on September 27, 2012
I loved this book! I was an English major in college and this book brought me back to that question of "What is literature?" I loved the adventure of finding finding ourselves in literature as well as finding friendship and understanding!
by Susan - reviewed on September 27, 2012
It will ever be imbedded in my soul! A beautiful story of hope, faith, courage and endurance! Feel two women’s struggles as they survive in a Cambodia waste dump and in the end help each other grow. So much to be learned and felt within the pages for everyone who reads this!
Amazing and so uplifting
by Alina - reviewed on September 27, 2012
This book is one that I was not expecting. The world in which they live is absolutely horrendous. I expected to feel sympathetic for the hardships that those at living in Stung Meanchey have to go through but I was amazed by this book. Sang Ly is such a positive person. She takes everything in stride and continues to move forward. Even when she feels like there is nothing left to live for she finds the strength to move on. The Rent Collector isn't a fairytale; no rich relative swoops in at the end to rescue them. It is so much better than that. This is definitely a book worth reading.
by catherine - reviewed on September 27, 2012
It was eye opening to what the other part of the world has to deal with and we are so blessed.. To have all that we do. To live in dump to have nothing and yet to just want to read. How amazing.. To search out the good in others and see the true heart of them and all that they had to deal with. ALL people should read this book
An intriguing and satisfying read
by Ann - reviewed on September 27, 2012
As soon as I heard about this book, I was intersted to learn how a family could live and survive at a dump. I enjoyed reading about Sang Ly and her family, and how thay went about their daily business. When Sopeap, the Cow, was introduced, I didn't see how she could become someone that I could sympathize with or see how Sang Ly could possibly get along with her. But as the story continued, and the literature lessons went along, I grew to appreciate her and her back story just as Sang Ly did. I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. When my son mentioned how much his English teacher likes to read, I told him to tell her about the Rent Collector. I think this would be a great required reading assignment in high school.
Interesting and amazing, but slow.
by Customer - reviewed on September 27, 2012
I liked Rent Collector as far as the story goes. It is amazing that people actually live the way the characters in the book do. I felt however that it was very slow in getting to where it was going. It had many small things within the story that I wanted to know what happened in the end and how they turned out, but it took a long time to get there in the story telling. It had a lot of insight into things that we can all learn and is a great story of hope and finding a way to better ourselves and those around us.
by Shelby - reviewed on September 27, 2012
AMAZING! This novel is so incredibly wonderful! It resonates with a theme of HOPE, and against all odds helps one to look past their own problems,so as to help another. It helps one to really put things into a brighter perspective. Thanks Camron Wright!
Amazing and wonderful
by Alina - reviewed on September 27, 2012
This book proves that no matter what your life is like you can be an amazing example to those around you. Sang Ly is positive no matter what happens. The story of her and her family is beautiful. I would recommend this book to anyone.
This book was written so well it will be in my book collection.
by cheryl - reviewed on September 27, 2012
The Rent Collector took me out of my comfort zone to a place I know little about.Sang Ly was a very impressive character.Her determination in life was a perfect match with the rent collector.
by Wade - reviewed on September 28, 2012
I was pleasantly surprised at how well this book grabbed my attention. Camron Wright was able to help me feel thankful for the ability to read and live in much better conditions that those in the book. However, I also feel that I need to do more to share these blessings with others. Both my wife and daughter enjoyed this book as well.
So many blessings
by Wade - reviewed on September 28, 2012
The Rent Collector was able to remind me of many blessings that I simply take for granted. Despite poverty, health concerns, and an oppressive government, this book is able to radiate hope. I felt very upbeat throughout the entire book.
by Lori - reviewed on September 28, 2012
AT first I was not too excited as I started the book, but as I got into it I started enjoying it. I was impressed with how hard they had to work just to have a little food each day. I loved how Sang Ly was so determined to learn how to read. I liked the twist of events at the end. Definately made me appreciate what I have. I have nothing to complain about.
An insight to a whole different world!
by Colbi - reviewed on September 28, 2012
It truly was an amazing story. It was incredible to me to see how this family lives day to day, and meal to meal. I loved how in this book, we are shown the world of living in a dump through the eyes of someone who has seen it everyday and it is LIFE to them. It really made me grateful for what we have and the privilages and opportunities we have also.
by Diane - reviewed on September 28, 2012
I loved this book! It is very inspiring and uplifting. It makes me more grateful for my life, family and friends. With all the daily struggles Sang Ly has she always seems happy and wants to better herself. She taught that no matter were or how we live you can accomplish anything you put your mind too.
An exceptional book!
by MEGAN - reviewed on September 28, 2012
I really enjoyed The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. I loved seeing the relationship grow between Sang Ly and Sopeap, the rent collector, as Sopeap teaches Sang Ly how to read using literature. I loved the stories and phrases that were told and how it connected with all of their own lives. It is a story of hope through friendship, family, learning, and perseverance. I enjoyed it immensely.
inspirational and thought-provoking.
by Darcy - reviewed on September 28, 2012
This book was inspirational! One if the things I noticed was that as I read about Sang Ly and her family, I began to reflect on the impact of reading and literature in my own life. Reading about the hardships and struggle of families in the dump was a reminder of how grateful I am for what I've been given. It was an incredible book, and well worth the time I spent reading it.
by Allison - reviewed on September 28, 2012
The Rent Collector is a super uplifting book. For the book being about a family that lives in a dump I found it very happy. It brings me great joy to have something that most of us would have a huge problem, they didnt have a problem and tried to live the best they could with what they were given with. This book warmed my heart as you slowly learned about the Rent Collectors story, and the trials she went through. I laughed and I cried. It is one of those books where you are happy with how it ends but sad it is over. A book that I will read again and again.
one of my favorite books
by Ken - reviewed on September 28, 2012
This book has become one of my favorite books of all time. It is much, much more than how human beings can live in a waste dump. This book is about life and learning. It's about books and literature. It's about love and redemption. I love this book!
Uplifting and Amazing (But a Bit Slow)
by Ilene - reviewed on September 28, 2012
This book took me a little while to get into. I felt a disconnect with the main character at first. It takes place in a world so very different, it didn't feel like a true story at all. However, about two-thirds of the way through the book, the characters started to realize more universal qualities about themselves and it made the book more relatable. It's wonderfully written and plot flows along so fabulously that at times I couldn't put it down. Though be warned, I went through half a box of tissues toward the end. Overall, an excellent read that I would recommend to any looking for an uplifting story.
A book that changes one for the better
by Mary Jane - reviewed on September 28, 2012
I loved Grandfather's Wisdom & still having such an influence. iT was a delightful and inspiring Journey on the Quest to learn to read & the impact it had on so many people. I loved the bus ride & the interst of all on the bus. It was about finding Joy with what you have and where you are. I was glad for the super ending to be able to connect all the people with the past and the present....Helen Lester Boise ID
by Emily - reviewed on September 30, 2012
I was surprised by how much this book affected me. The storyline is poignantly interwoven with a discussion of literature as one woman teaches another how to read. It renewed my love of reading.
Amazing. Even though this is a "novel" it is so inspiring to me that Sang Ly could be so positive in her world!
by Marie - reviewed on September 28, 2012
Even though this is a "novel" it is so inspiring to me that Sang Ly could be so positive in her world!
A thought provoking page turner
by brooke - reviewed on September 29, 2012
I don't have a lot of time to read these days, but I would say that regardless of that, this book is definitely worth reading. Not only is it an interesting story that held my attention, but it really made me think as well. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone- it was a GREAT read!
Hope can and will triumph in the face of despair.
by John D. - reviewed on September 29, 2012
A massive garbage dump on the outskirts of Phnom Penh serves as an unlikely setting for a humble family of garbage collectors to find hope, friendship, and love in an otherwise seemingly hopeless existence. The human desire for a "better tomorrow" and its influence in the lives of all of us is tenderly addressed in this thoughtful work of literature.
This book is more than a "novel;" it is a slice of life of human beings trying their best under challenging circumstances.
by Kathy - reviewed on September 29, 2012
This book is more than a "novel!" It is a "slice of life" about human beings trying their best to make a life by scavenging through garbage at the municipal dump located outside the front door of their scanty, makeshift home. In addition, author Camron Wright has captured the motivating power of hope that comes from learning to read and to understand more about life. The main characters are Sang Ly, a young wife and mother in her late twenties with a desire to better her life; Ki Lim, her loving and devoted husband; their baby who is ill; and the Rent Collector also known as Sopeap or Soriyan who is living a life of regret, but who makes amends for good later in her life. The culture and the literature of Cambodia are shared in this moving novel. It is worth reading!
A great read
by Customer - reviewed on September 29, 2012
It's hard to believe that there are people in the world who's circumstances would force them to live in the city dump. This was an amazing story of a woman's determination to develop a skill that she felt was so vitally important to the well being of the health of her child. The experiences she has in the process are both heart wrenching and touching. A great read!
A Beautiful Story
by Customer - reviewed on September 29, 2012
I was not expecting to feel so drawn into the story of Sang Ly. And I ended up feeling very enthralled with the journey of the characters and the story-telling. It was wonderful and I have recommended it to many of my friends and family.
An incredible, well written journey that take you through the lives of Khmer people.
by Vanncy - reviewed on September 29, 2012
This was a wonderful book that I read with my mother. It was especially great to read with her because she is from Cambodia, so I was able to ask her questions through out the book and I was able to receive a greater understanding of the lives that go on in Cambodia. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking to understand the lives of other in different countries. The Rent Collector is definitely an eye opener.
An amazing story
by Kim - reviewed on September 29, 2012
What a wonderful story of hope in a world that is fighting for hope, Sang Ly lives in a dump and still is trying to raise her son and better their lives, she does amazing things and in the process helps a grumpy rent collector become a better person, we are so blessed. I couldnt put it down it had so many twists and bumps, what a great ending. it is a must read, what a heart warming story. I recommend it to everyone.
A book worth reading.
by Karan - reviewed on September 29, 2012
I thought this would be a book about being poor and overcoming it. And it was, but so much more. It was about love of family, of good neighbors, finding good in grouchy 'rent collector". But what I got out of the book was to look for the real meaning of "stories'. What do they really mean. I loved the book and hated to see it end.
A story of hope and appreciation
by Marillyn - reviewed on September 28, 2012
I loved this book. I loved learning about the culture in Cambocia. It also shows us that no matter what our circumstance may be we can hold onto hope and still appreciate what we have and be happy.
Very humbling story of trying to improve our condition!
by Marcie - reviewed on September 28, 2012
LOVED this book. I remember a Relief Society talk about a sister with very little materially but she put a vase of flowers on a shelf in her hut that brightened the whole room. This book is about attitude and living WELL where you are planted. My heart goes out to people who live in dangerous circumstances throughout the world; know that you are prayed for!
A very inspirational read.
by austin - reviewed on September 30, 2012
As the story unfolds and we watch this little community live in such harsh conditions, the light of personal growth and compassion is inspiring. Everyone can benefit from this wonderful story.
by Jordanne - reviewed on September 30, 2012
I realize this is a work of fiction but that is their reality. A must read! So good gave me a new perspective on how fortunate I am. How universal it is that we can all better ourselves. READ THIS BOOK!!!
Good story about hope, but...
by Customer - reviewed on September 30, 2012
Although a very good story, I found it hard to read because of the living conditions. I found i couldn't read it for an extended period of time. After you get past that, its very inspirational and a great story about hope and how it can change our lives.
The books outcome was good but expected not my favorite read.
by Customer - reviewed on September 30, 2012
At the beginning of this book I found it kind of fascinating and thought it would be a good read especially given the area of location and the conditions of the people living there. As I continued it was apparent to me just when I thought the book was getting better it would leave me wondering what I had missed. To say I’m happy that Ki Lim, Sang Ly and Nisay fought their battle and won is admiral as well as Sopeap and her own fight with life. This isn’t a book I’d suggest everyone read however if you feel so inclined read it and come to your own conclusion.
This is a touching story.
by Diane - reviewed on September 30, 2012
The Rent Collector is a touching story. It made me grateful for my life. I loved the characters. It proves that love does matter most, that even in the worst living conditions kindness can change a heart. It inspired me to want to be better.
by Chelsie - reviewed on September 30, 2012
Reading this novel was like drinking from a cool spring after walking miles through a hot desert-refreshing and edifying. Being a teacher myself, I loved reading about the progress that each of these characters make, not just in improving literacy and their way of life, but their souls as well. Well written and truly beautiful.
Life Changing, No Matter Your Situation
by Holly - reviewed on September 29, 2012
The Rent Collector was one of those books that changed the way I view the world. Not only is it a book about what learning to read can do for someone, but also one about facing trials and evil in our daily lives. This book showed me that if I try to find the meaning behind things that are happening, I will be able to face whatever comes my way with more patients and courage. I thought that it being a story about people living in a dump that it would make me sad and depressed about the conditions some people live in. But when the main character, Sang Ly, learns to see the beauty in the dump, I too learned to see the beauty in every aspect of my life. I would recommend this book to any and every one. It could be read a hundred times and always bring across a different message, depending on your current circumstances. I loved it and hope you do to.
Very thought provoking
by Customer - reviewed on September 29, 2012
I really enjoyed this book, it sometimes made me think more deeply than I wanted to, it is amazing that some people still live life in this manner when we are so blessed.
We can find joy in our surroundings.
by Tessa - reviewed on October 01, 2012
While reading The Rent Collector I was reminded many times that we make the decision to be happy or miserable. This book was fantastic! You feel what Sang Li feels. You realize how important reading and learning is the soul. You feel the friendship that formed between teacher and pupil. It was a GREAT read. Well worth your time.
by Camille - reviewed on October 01, 2012
What an amazing book. I enjoyed reading this book. It is interesting that the story takes place where there are people living in the most humbling of places. Reading is such an important life skill. What new perpectives we can gain from others experiences. A must read.
A triumph out of tragedy...
by Stephanie - reviewed on October 01, 2012
Daily survival is an insurmountable task in largest dump in Cambodia. Each day Ki Lim and Sang Ly must pick through mountainous piles of trash looking for something, anything, that can be sold for a bit of cash. Each day is worse than the next as their child Nisay suffers from a mysterious illness that is slowly draining the child's life. Each portion of money is used carefully, a bit of food, medicines for Nisay and most importantly - paying the rent collector each month. Yes, even in a garbage dump you must pay your rent because, after all, as the rent collector sneers "there are people begging me for this space." Horrifically, this is true. A strange turn of events throws Sang Ly and the Rent Collector together and Sang Ly discovers that not all is as they seem and that beauty can be found in even the ugliest of circumstances. My heart was so moved by this tender story. A triumph rising out of tragedy and hope out of despair. The rent collector will give you faith in mankind and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for how truly rich we are.
by Becky - reviewed on October 02, 2012
Fantastic book! Loved every word. Fascinated by the culture and the story. Loved the characters. The message was of hope. It really lifted me up.
the human spirit can overcome so many obstacles!
by Janice - reviewed on October 05, 2012
Having lived in a country with much less advantage than most of us are used to, I related to this book on many levels. There were many twists and turns that kept the book exciting and left me really wanting to get back to reading it. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story based on real life experiences. I know you will find your time well spent reading this book.
by Angie - reviewed on October 08, 2012
This was an inspiring, and epic tale! I cannot believe this woman pays rent for her tiny tin and cardboard home. The rent collector herself is so cruelly inspiring. Sopheap is such an intellectually inspiring teacher. I could hardly stand to put this book down and couldn't wait to pick it back up again each day until I finished it! The twist near the end is amazing! Thank you Cameron Wright for this wonderful true tale!Thank YOU Sang Ly for sharing your life with us!
by Courtney - reviewed on October 14, 2012
Inspired by real people, The Rent Collector by Camron Wright is the story of Sang Ly, a poor Cambodian woman who lives with her husband and baby boy in a garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Sang Ly along with her husband and the other residents of her “village” pick through the garbage to search for hidden treasures that can be sold for enough money to buy enough food for dinner that night, they all hate the local rent collector, and none of them can read. After a particularly difficult day Sang Ly discovers that the rent collector, whom she loathes so much, can read. Sang Ly knows in her heart that this is the key to a better and healthier future for her chronically sick son... For the rest of this review go to: http://ordinaryhappilyeverafter.com/blog/2012/09/the-rent-collector-giveaway/
by Evelyn - reviewed on December 19, 2012
This is a beautifully written story that really helps you appreciate all of the many things that we can so easily take for granted. It is a wonderful journey! I loved it!
by Alexis - reviewed on November 28, 2012
The story of Sang Ly truly inspired me that I can make the best of any situation. She literally lives in a trash dump, but learns how to turn her situation into something completely different. By befriending the dump drunk, she improves her own life, the life of her family, and throughout time will continue to bless the lives of her community and other outlying communities in Cambodia. I would recommend this to anyone with a love for travel!
Touches you heart and soul...
by Evelyn - reviewed on March 14, 2013
This book is amazing! The story is not only insightful, but it takes you on a journey that touches you to the core. You have a glimpse of a world that you never understood before, and a deep appreciation for so many things that you take for granted. Even though reading, and books are very much a part of who I am, this book had me stop and realize how much I have taken for granted the availability of books in my world. Very powerful book! Loved it!
humbling, extraordinary journey, beautiful and haunting imagery,
by Renae - reviewed on February 28, 2013
Author, Camron Wright humbles his audience with fantastic imagery, leading the reader through the story of a family who literally has nothing and everything at the same time. The motivation to gain an education was magical to read about in this novel, as a determined mother struggles to help her ill son, and her hardworking husband make a better life for themselves. Sang Ly, the main character, befriends the most unlikely of souls only to learn that through determination, hard work, and passion-she will learn much more than she has bargained for. Seeing life on the other side, and staying positive as the author shows you just how hard life can be in third world countries. Cambodian life in the dump, picking for garbage and living in make shift houses amongst dirt, trash, fires, and floods is anything but easy, and Sang Ly has had enough. Her ailing son is days from slipping away, but she uses her words of comfort, and her diseased grandfather as a compass to follow her dreams in order to find a cure, and a way out of the dump they call Stung Meanchey. The Rent collector proves to be a journey not only for a hopeful and willful mother, but for the reader as well. Friendships blossom as Sang Ly is lead on her journey to learn how to read from their very own Rent Collector. The Rent Collector was a satisfying read, filled with struggles, laughter, hope, and suspense. The author keeps the reader wanting more, I was hooked by page one. I look forward to reading more novels by Camron Wright and getting caught up in more of his profound imagery. bookdeep.blogspot.com
by Monica - reviewed on November 18, 2013
I don't give very many five star ratings because in order to receive five stars the book needs to leave a lasting impression. It needs to be amazing. This book is simply that, amazing. Although the writing is simple, it pulled me in. I was hooked from the first paragraph, and could not put it down. The characters are based on real people, and they are complex, real, and so well developed that they come to life on the page. Each of them is inspiring. Their attitudes toward life in the dump are realistic; they know their situation, yet they find happiness and love. I love the relationship between Sang Ly and Sopeap Sin. I love how they come together and each is able to learn and grow from their experiences. I also love the relationship Sang Ly and Ki Lim have. Their love and marriage is incredible. There are so many wonderful lessons taught in this book. There is some language and gang violence. A girl is almost sold into prostitution. I recommend it for ages 12-13 and up. They still might be a little young, and parental discussion is a must at that age, but the lessons learned make it worth it. You may read my full review on my book blog: www.the-readathon.blogspot.com.
A Definite Favorite!!
by Melanie - reviewed on November 22, 2013
When I first read the summary for this book, I was intrigued by the location of the story: the dump. I wondered how that would work and what kind of life someone could have living at the dump. It was interesting to learn, too, that if they got evicted for not paying their rent, there were others waiting to move in and take their spot! Life was hard in the dump and Sang Ly hated it but this isn't a depressing book. There's an underlying theme of hope which runs through the entire book. I love the references to literature and the lessons that are taught throughout the book. One of them is that, even though some of the same stories seem to be rewritten time and time again, we find ourselves drawn to them because they explain our lives and teach us to not give up hope and that we are meant to endure. I enjoyed reading about all the different characters and their relationships and Sopeap turned out to be quite complex. My first impression of her was not good and I didn't like her but after learning more about her and what she had been through in the past to get her to where she was, I completely changed my mind and grew to love her. That is definitely a real-life lesson as well. I can't say enough good things about this book. It is easily one of the top 5 books I've read this year and would give it more stars if I could! It's a great discussion book for any book club and is also fabulous to read on your own!
by Sandie - reviewed on November 26, 2013
The Rent Collector was a book I had wanted to review a long time. I anticipated its arrival, and was excited when it finally came in the mail. Camron Wright, did a great job in this book with creating meaningful characters. I loved to read the thoughts of Sang Ly, as a mother, I could picture this clearly. I also loved her drive for a better tomorrow and a brighter future for her son. I got caught up in this book, and because of all the pictures in the back, started to think this was a real story, I guess that was where my feelings changed. Although a great story, this is just a fictional story. It is great, and it was hard to put down. I had a difficult time finding the time to finish it, but so glad I finally did. I would give this book a 3 star rating. Great read. My dad served in the military in Cambodia/Viet Nam. The story is heart breaking to realize the struggles that this family endured. I would recommend it to anyone.