Book Reviews of In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel
In the Shadow of the Banyan A Novel
Author: Vaddey Ratner
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ISBN-13: 9781451657715
ISBN-10: 1451657714
Publication Date: 6/4/2013
Pages: 320
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 12 ratings
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book Type: Paperback
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This is a novel about the Khmer Rouge takeover in Cambodia as written by a survivor who experienced the events as a five-year old child. She says in an interview following the story that she at first wanted to write a memoir but ended up writing a novel instead, and this leads to the main problem with the book. Although the book is narrated by a seven-year old, it's written in an adult voice and this leads to a often-present disconnect. No seven year old would describe things as lyrically and with the adult reason present in her supposed narrative. Having an adult narrate the book might have been a better choice for that reason.

Although I wouldn't read this book again, it's a compelling and at times beautifully written book that lays bare some of the horrors of a civil war that is often forgotten in western history. The family bonds and emotions of the characters in the story ring true and this lends a power to the book, even with the too-old narrative voice. If you can emotionally handle a book on this subject matter, I would probably recommend it.