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
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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