LULU IN THE SKY

A DAUGHTER OF CAMBODIA FINDS LOVE, HEALING, AND DOUBLE HAPPINESS

Ung's writing is clear-headed, honest and compelling; much of what she describes, from the brutalities she and her family...

The third memoir in a trilogy about processing and moving past the trauma of surviving the Cambodian genocide.

Activist Ung (Lucky Child, 2006, etc.) wrote two previous well-received chronicles of her stint as a child soldier serving the Khmer Rouge. She lost most of her family to the killing fields, built a new life as a refugee in Vermont and reunited with a sister who was abandoned in Cambodia. This book chronicles the next chapter of her life, the decade that began with her time in college. At age 20 she fell in love with Mark, a wholesome, optimistic Midwesterner. The author gives a significant amount of attention to their courtship and eventual successful marriage. Even the magic of their romance, however, couldn’t negate her almost-daily struggles with depression and residual post-traumatic stress. Mark's sunniness, which originally drew her to him, became a source of resentment, but she ultimately recognized as positive her husband's capacity to love without fear. The title is a combination of Ung's nickname, Lulu, and the Beatles' song, and its implicit optimism reflects a theme running through the author’s life. "People will always die," an aunt told her, "but we have to continue to live. Live, eat, and love." After college, she and Mark moved to Washington, D.C., where she began her lifelong work as an activist. The book closes with another return trip to Cambodia in 2000.

Ung's writing is clear-headed, honest and compelling; much of what she describes, from the brutalities she and her family endured to the ways it steered her adult life, is deeply affecting.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-209191-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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