Saturday, November 14, 2009
Book Review: Children of the River (YA)
In trying to decide which book to read next for the high school World Lit/World Geography class I teach, I picked up Children of the River by Linda Crew. Recommended for grades 7 and up, the book tells the story of Sundara, a Cambodian refugee who fled the Khmer Rouge at age 13. She and her aunt, uncle, and cousins settle in Oregon; she doesn't know the fate of her parents and siblings.
The rest of the novel takes place four years later, as Sundara faces the challenges of being a proper Cambodian girl at home while falling in love with an American boy in high school. Besides feeling conflicted about her role, she constantly wonders the fate of her family back in Cambodia, fearing that they, like millions of others, have been slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge.
I really liked this book. It was well written, engaging, and honest and presented insight into the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. So, I gave it to my 16-year-old son to read to get his opinion. He called it "cheesy," "corny," and "unreadable." He did not, in fact, finish the book. I had a feeling he would say that. All the good qualities in the book—and there are many—cannot save it from being a young adult romance novel with little appeal to young men.
But for YA female readers: yes! Don't miss this one.