The Rent Collector
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
Unabridged audio book
By Sharon, Submitted on 2016-11-28
I listed to this audiobook after reading the book "The Orphan Keeper," by the same author. I had heard great things about ''tis book but had no idea how ma velour it would be! After listening to the audiobook I plan on buying a hard copy of the book to reread and add to my library. I absolutely loved this book!
This book really opened my eyes! How often do we complain about our struggles when they are nothing compared to what other people are suffering! We are taken on an incredible journey with a 29-year-old young mother how is trying to just stay afloat in life. She and her family collect recyclable material from the dump each day, which they in turn sell with the hopes to buy at least rice and occasionally vegetables or on rare occasions, a small portion of meat to make dinner at the end of the day. Things get even more difficult as her baby gets very sick and his conditions only seem to worsen. They can barely buy food for themselves. Paying for medicine and rent is nearly impossible! It is a constant struggle!
The rent collector is a bossy, rude, drunken woman, who is hated by all. The two form and unlikely friendship. We go on a journey with them full of struggles, ups and downs and a lot of touching life lessons! There are so many lessons and layers to the lessons that are taught in this book. I believe you could read the book ten times and each time get something new out of it!
I really loved this book! I laughed, cried and reflected upon my one life throughout the entire book. It was interesting the whole way through and had a fabulous ending!
I would recommend this book to my adult friends, especially young parents. This book makes you grateful for that you have. It makes you want to be a better person. It makes you soul-search. You cannot read this book without being changed for the better!
By JillB, Submitted on 2015-06-26
This is a fantastic book. The characters are rich and well written. Every time I put it down I would find myself looking at it wondering when I could get back to the story to find out what was going to happen. It is a great book about humanity, literacy and love can alter a person's life in unexpected ways. Everyone that I loaned the book to loves it as much as I do. Definitely a must read
By Ryan, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I started reading this book due to the intense recommendations of friends and colleagues. To be honest I was hesitant to begin. I didn't know how a story set in a Cambodian dump could really be as compelling and "life-changing" as many have claimed. How wrong my original assumptions proved to be. This book truly is a life-changer. It invokes such strong feelings of hope, joy, and love. It makes me view my own relationships with others in a whole new light. This book is not corny. It does not give you shallow feelings of happiness. Rather, it makes you view your own world with more compassion and appreciate the people that are in it. I would recommend this book to everyone. You will be a better person for reading it and I promise you, you will not be the same!
By Sandie, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Melanie, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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 Monica, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Renae, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Evelyn, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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!
By Alexis, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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!
By Evelyn, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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 Courtney, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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...
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By Angie, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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 Janice, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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 Becky, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Stephanie, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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 Camille, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Tessa, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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 Kolene, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Holly, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Chelsie, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.