Official Review: Saving Nary by Carol DeMent

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Lennycat
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Latest Review: Saving Nary by Carol DeMent

Official Review: Saving Nary by Carol DeMent

Post by Lennycat » 17 Jul 2018, 12:57

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Saving Nary" by Carol DeMent.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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From 1975 to 1979, the communist Khmer Rouge government took over the country of Cambodia, bringing with it the mass murder, starvation, and disease of more than two million people. In an effort to create a socially engineered communist society based on agrarianism, the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot attempted to cleanse the country of city dwellers, the educated, doctors, teachers, civil servants, and religious leaders.

Citizens were stripped of all of their possessions and Pol Pot’s government began controlling every aspect of the people’s lives. Money, jewelry, private property, books, and religion were outlawed. Parents and their children were separated to work on farms or recruited to fight with the Khmer Rouge. Those that spoke out or resisted were sent to prison or killed immediately by brutal force.

Saving Nary by Carol DeMent is a story written during this time period of two Cambodian refugees and their transition from surviving the mass genocide of the Cambodian people to their move to asylum in the United States. Pra Chay, a Buddhist monk, and his brother Khath, a survivor of the dreaded S-21 death camp, end up in a refugee camp in Thailand. They are granted asylum and sent to the United States to start their new life. As they adapt to the customs of and language of their new life in the U.S., Khath is drawn to a young girl named Nary who reminds him of his missing daughters. Nary spent five years away from her parents working the fields in a youth camp and barely surviving the forced labor.

Khath is haunted by the brutal murder of his wife and son as they were forced to leave Pnom Penh. His two remaining daughters were separated from him and taken to the youth camps to work the fields. He vows to be reunited with them again somehow. When they arrive in the United States, Khath and Pra Chay enlist the help of a local priest to help them locate Kath’s missing daughters. But Khath is mentally scarred from being tortured in the death camp, a camp in which only seven people survived out of an estimated 20,000 people. Can Pra Chay help Khath find his way out of the depths of mental darkness so that he can be reunited with his daughters once again? Will they be able to adjust to this new life in the U.S.?

Carol DeMent brings the heart and soul of the Cambodian people to the pages of Saving Nary. I found myself turning page after page and becoming immersed in the heartbreak and suffering that the Cambodian people have endured. Ms. DeMent’s writing is poignant and raw, giving depth and emotion to each of her characters. Khath's character is so tragic that you can't help but feel like there has to be something better for him.

The author's story moves forward with just the right amount of ebb and flow, leading the reader's inner mind with rich and vivid images that are sometimes beautiful and sometimes terrifying. Every character has a purpose and the author has created a plot with plenty of tension and conflict to pull in the reader. I loved the relationship between Pra-Chay and Khath, each helping each other to figure out how to recover after living through such a travesty. The other characters in the book also had stories of survival to tell and Ms. Dement weaves an intricate web of storytelling by connecting their stories together to create a surprising and dramatic ending.

I felt that the cover art for the book did not really represent the heart of the story. Although the cover represents a beautiful image of Cambodia, I would have like to have seen something more aligned with the storyline of the book. The only other thing I would say is that I would have like to have seen the development of Mr. Sareth’s character brought out more fully. I felt that there was more of a story to tell in his character and that he didn't really get the fully rounded conclusion that he deserved.

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. This was a beautifully written book, the kind that brings you to tears. The kind that you stay up late at night to get to the next chapter. It was a well-rounded story with rich characters, an engrossing plot, and an excellent ending. I would recommend this book to anyone.

******
Saving Nary
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kdstrack
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Post by kdstrack » 20 Jul 2018, 17:42

What an excellent story of how plowing ahead to reach the ideal society damages so many lives. This is only one story about what millions suffered. Thanks for a compelling review.

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Post by AmySmiles » 20 Jul 2018, 19:01

Great review, I find that I can't follow these books well, but I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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Post by tofman » 21 Jul 2018, 00:43

Excellent and heart touching story.

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Post by Ahone Miranda » 21 Jul 2018, 03:36

Your review is great.You understood the book so well with clarity from the starting point to climax and resolution. Your review has inspired me to start on something.

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Post by joykan+2014 » 21 Jul 2018, 07:27

Terrifying yet beautifully touching. The story illustrates just how the society has survived through agonies and human tragedies to what it is today. I loved your review as it gives me a picture of the book without having read it yet.

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Post by davidcoin » 21 Jul 2018, 10:45

The ambition of men sometimes be cloud their vision leading to the destruction of innocent souls all in the bid to create a society that will be only to their own benefits. I think the review is really captivating.

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Post by crediblereading2 » 21 Jul 2018, 10:54

Kark Marx professed Communism to be the best type of leadership for the betterment of mankind yet it involves so much suffering and death. Thank you for an excellent review.

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Post by KristyKhem » 21 Jul 2018, 13:22

Sounds like a very emotional read. I only came across the Khmer Rouge Government once before and that was when I was doing a freelance piece on bizarre foods. In Cambodia, during the KR regime, the people had to eat fried tarantulas because there was hardly any food left. Now, its a delicacy there, but it started from hunger in Cambodia.

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Latest Review: Saving Nary by Carol DeMent

Post by Lennycat » 21 Jul 2018, 13:28

KristyKhem wrote: ↑
21 Jul 2018, 13:22
Sounds like a very emotional read. I only came across the Khmer Rouge Government once before and that was when I was doing a freelance piece on bizarre foods. In Cambodia, during the KR regime, the people had to eat fried tarantulas because there was hardly any food left. Now, its a delicacy there, but it started from hunger in Cambodia.
Wow! That's very interesting. In doing research after I read this book, I was horrified at what brutal methods the Pol Pot regime used during this time.

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Post by kandscreeley » 21 Jul 2018, 18:29

This certainly sounds extremely engrossing. I can't imagine your country becoming socialist so fast and trying to commit Mass genocide. I have a feeling this would be quite emotional. Thanks!
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Post by bellaterrabooks » 21 Jul 2018, 19:35

As heartbreaking as this story sounds I think that stories that teach us about others and perhaps something about ourselves are always appreciated. It would be valuable to learn the lessons of history and culture, especially from the perspective of those who lived the experience directly. This was one of the dark periods of our world’s history, so an author that is able to use the backdrop the chaos of that period and create a tapestry of characters who touch the heart of the reader is very intriguing. From the review, it would appear that Khath was able to grow from the heartbreak of losing his family members to create a deep bond with Nary, which I am sure was much needed from her perspective. Each of these characters was able to heal through these bonds. Thank you for your thoughtful evaluation of this beautiful story.

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Post by obialor chidera » 21 Jul 2018, 20:17

extremely touching and interesting

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Post by Cecilia_L » 21 Jul 2018, 22:00

The author's story moves forward with just the right amount of ebb and flow, leading the reader's inner mind with rich and vivid images that are sometimes beautiful and sometimes terrifying. Every character has a purpose and the author has created a plot with plenty of tension and conflict to pull in the reader.
What a great endorsement! I can see why you connected with this emotional story. Thanks for the recommendation!

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Post by Crainbow » 23 Jul 2018, 05:15

Interesting review, though the book's cover seems to paint a picture of a story that is more about adventure and romance in a historical setting much older than the period covered in the book. However, tragic stories wear me out but if there's a happy or hopeful ending I could endure the read. Nice review.

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