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Children of the River

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Sundara fled Cambodia with her aunt's family to escape the Khmer Rouge army when she was thirteen, leaving behind her parents, her brother and sister, and the boy she had loved since she was a child. Now, four years later, she struggles to fit in at her Oregon high school and to be "a good Cambodian girl" at home. A good Cambodian girl never dates; she waits for her family Sundara fled Cambodia with her aunt's family to escape the Khmer Rouge army when she was thirteen, leaving behind her parents, her brother and sister, and the boy she had loved since she was a child. Now, four years later, she struggles to fit in at her Oregon high school and to be "a good Cambodian girl" at home. A good Cambodian girl never dates; she waits for her family to arrange her marriage to a Cambodian boy. Yet Sundara and Jonathan, an extraordinary American boy, are powerfully drawn to each other. Haunted by grief for her lost family and for the life left behind, Sundara longs to be with him. At the same time she wonders, Are her hopes for happiness and new life in America disloyal to her past and her people?


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Sundara fled Cambodia with her aunt's family to escape the Khmer Rouge army when she was thirteen, leaving behind her parents, her brother and sister, and the boy she had loved since she was a child. Now, four years later, she struggles to fit in at her Oregon high school and to be "a good Cambodian girl" at home. A good Cambodian girl never dates; she waits for her family Sundara fled Cambodia with her aunt's family to escape the Khmer Rouge army when she was thirteen, leaving behind her parents, her brother and sister, and the boy she had loved since she was a child. Now, four years later, she struggles to fit in at her Oregon high school and to be "a good Cambodian girl" at home. A good Cambodian girl never dates; she waits for her family to arrange her marriage to a Cambodian boy. Yet Sundara and Jonathan, an extraordinary American boy, are powerfully drawn to each other. Haunted by grief for her lost family and for the life left behind, Sundara longs to be with him. At the same time she wonders, Are her hopes for happiness and new life in America disloyal to her past and her people?

30 review for Children of the River

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mei

    I have no idea why my teacher made me read this. It's like twilight and a Cambodian history book mixed. Like WTF?! Apparently Jonathan is perfect and apparently the girl is as well. ALL the boys loveeee her even though she is poor and can't speak proper English. And what is with the aunt? Like even though I don't like the girl but why are you blaming her for your laziness and weakness? You're the mother you should have been taking care of the dam thing! O yah and of course there has to be a mean I have no idea why my teacher made me read this. It's like twilight and a Cambodian history book mixed. Like WTF?! Apparently Jonathan is perfect and apparently the girl is as well. ALL the boys loveeee her even though she is poor and can't speak proper English. And what is with the aunt? Like even though I don't like the girl but why are you blaming her for your laziness and weakness? You're the mother you should have been taking care of the dam thing! O yah and of course there has to be a mean girl! And of douse she has to be a cheerleader. This is a mound of crap that has no meaning what so ever. So you're basically saying if your pretty then a perfect guy will like you even if you're poor and have no personality? I have a feeling this author is trying to pretend she is the girl because in her youth she had to flee a country and wishes the events in this book could have happened to her. I can't believe my teacher actually takes this crap on paper seriously. Lastly the author can't even write properly. Like in most dialect she has Sandara talk like a cave person but when she wants her to give a (horrible) speech she suddenly talks like a normal person. Oh and her family is always telling her to be thankful yet they're always complaining. And this book was set in the 70's I'm quite sure there was still racisum back then. So it's not like a refugee can judge everyone who is opening their arms to them. Which would be none. Okay I have to rant... Anyways like at one moment they're saying that they're so poor they have to wear free cloths then the next they're like yaaah everyone is jelous of my mercedes. I hate this book. Even twilight is more original then this. One last thing! Basically Sandara is supposd to be pretty but ALL of the girls on the cover are butt ugly. Like I literally mean take a piece of mud and molded by a dog. With no paws. That is blind. And who thinks the mud is food. That tastes so bad it is spit out. Ater being digested.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ashlyn

    I didn't like this book. We read it in our language arts class and I despised having to read it every day. The plot is drawn out and boring and her aunt is really weird. I would not recommend this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Peterson

    This book was on my son's summer reading list for going in to 8th grade. My wife read it and loved it. Arthur is almost finished with it and is enjoying it. I was totally captivated and so psyched that my son's English teacher required it. What a happy surprise. Themes: 1. Horror of communism - hinted and explicit - throughout the book. Perhaps understated in the details, but that still came across very powerfully 2. Difficulty of emigration & immigration 3. Cushy, shallow concerns of most non-i This book was on my son's summer reading list for going in to 8th grade. My wife read it and loved it. Arthur is almost finished with it and is enjoying it. I was totally captivated and so psyched that my son's English teacher required it. What a happy surprise. Themes: 1. Horror of communism - hinted and explicit - throughout the book. Perhaps understated in the details, but that still came across very powerfully 2. Difficulty of emigration & immigration 3. Cushy, shallow concerns of most non-immigrant kids - but not all. 4. Libertarian pro market - making money Anti gov't social security - pro-family alternative! Pro immigration - benefits for everyone Pro self responsibility - so refreshing. No whining! Anti-communist - horrors of their rule Work/achievement/equality vs. status by birth. P.187 How hard immigrants need to work to survive and thrive in US & the benefits of freedom to do so Importance, honor and status of American citizenship p.187 Importance of one person (a loved individual) p197 Realistic about actions making the difference, not prayers p. 211 5. Guilt - Sundara's guilt for not being able to save her aunt's baby P. 192 6. Khmer Superstitions - p.192 bad karma leaving house without ceremonies - Several spots - touching a child's head makes him dumb and takes away soul 7. Honoring friends and family - strong tradition P.202 Moni buying rose for Sundara's Aunt's arrival Many other instances 8. Optimism, hope is justified p. 212 - Soka's sister made it - Sundara's little sister was found and saved by a stranger Negative parts of the book: Kindle version, which I read, had about a zillion typos. Usually pretty minor. But at one point a half page or so was inserted/duped in the wrong place and perhaps some was missing. Overall - I Highly recommend this book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    I read this book back in middle school, when it appeared on our summer reading list. I enjoyed the story then, but like other readers, I rolled my eyes a bit at the aunt's behavior. "Why couldn't she be more understanding?" I asked myself. The story has stayed with me for over a decade after that initial reading, and it's aged beautifully. I see now how deeply and richly Linda Crew incorporated questions of love, loss, guilt, assimilation, and responsibility. I'm so glad I encountered this book i I read this book back in middle school, when it appeared on our summer reading list. I enjoyed the story then, but like other readers, I rolled my eyes a bit at the aunt's behavior. "Why couldn't she be more understanding?" I asked myself. The story has stayed with me for over a decade after that initial reading, and it's aged beautifully. I see now how deeply and richly Linda Crew incorporated questions of love, loss, guilt, assimilation, and responsibility. I'm so glad I encountered this book in middle school --- it set me up for a lifelong journey towards greater empathy and cross-cultural dialogue. So if you're reading this book right now for school and you're frustrated, stick with it. Ask yourself why the characters are acting as they do. Put yourself in their shoes. Examine their priorities, both personal and cultural. These kinds of mental exercises will serve you well throughout your life. And if you're protesting, "But it's so cliched!" ... well ... yeah, forbidden love is "cliched" in the sense that it happens all the time. So do cultural clashes, and generational clashes, and guilt. Writers aren't cliched for discussing these topics; they're cliched when they parrot someone else's viewpoint and don't add their own perspective to the discussion. If a topic keeps coming up over and over, across different people and cultures and genres, with lots of different takes, that's probably a good sign that we need to sit up and pay attention to this thing that's so important to so many different groups.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Allison Chan

    SO. F*CKING. CLICHE!!!!!! First of all, there's FORBIDDEN ROMANCE, one of the most cliche, overused topics nowadays. And even worse, it's written so terribly that I can't stand it! And it has to work in the end! Why can't authors write tragic ends or something?! Secondly, it's the whole I-came-from-another-country-and-meet-some-popular-guy-who-likes-me. Oh. My. Freaking. God. There's like the smallest of chances that that'll happen. Seriously. If I was the new kid, every single popular guy would SO. F*CKING. CLICHE!!!!!! First of all, there's FORBIDDEN ROMANCE, one of the most cliche, overused topics nowadays. And even worse, it's written so terribly that I can't stand it! And it has to work in the end! Why can't authors write tragic ends or something?! Secondly, it's the whole I-came-from-another-country-and-meet-some-popular-guy-who-likes-me. Oh. My. Freaking. God. There's like the smallest of chances that that'll happen. Seriously. If I was the new kid, every single popular guy would probably tease me to no end. Goddamn it, Sundara. Don't fight with Cathy Gates over her man. And thirdly, the plot was soooooo retarded. It's like writing a flat, deadpan autobiography on Sundara. I felt no emotion because they were expressed so terribly! Sundara worries about some random thing that makes no sense to me, and the way Sundara talks destroys everything. She acts like everyone knows her family and customs. Well, guess what, Sundara, in case your little brain hasn't figured out? Practically everyone around you is American, and they probably won't give a damn about your family and customs! And too much homework assigned for this book :'(

  6. 5 out of 5

    Raphael

    Children of the river by linda crew is a book That takes place in the 70s about a Cmbodian refuge girl fleeing from the kamer roge to america. Her name is Sundara and she left both her parents behind and leving with her aunt uncle and cousins to get on a crowdwed cargo boat, filled with hundereds of other refugies. With hardly anny food or water on the crowded boat sundaras aunt Soka asks her to take care of her baby on the boat. Unable to find anny food for the baby sundara is forced to throgh Children of the river by linda crew is a book That takes place in the 70s about a Cmbodian refuge girl fleeing from the kamer roge to america. Her name is Sundara and she left both her parents behind and leving with her aunt uncle and cousins to get on a crowdwed cargo boat, filled with hundereds of other refugies. With hardly anny food or water on the crowded boat sundaras aunt Soka asks her to take care of her baby on the boat. Unable to find anny food for the baby sundara is forced to throgh the dead babys body oveboard. Now in America Sundara is haunted by her dead cousuns ghost along with the aditional guilt from her aunt. She also likes an american boy named jonathin who acording to cambodian tradition and her aunt is completely forbiden as a matter of fact even talking to him is forbidin. Eventualy Soka forgives Sundara for her chileds death. After this the haunting memories go away for Sundara. After Soka heres that Jonathins dad is a docktor volinter in cambodia and that Jonathin wants to fallow in his footsteps Soka decides to give him a chance. I can conect this book with myself because my mom told me about when she imigrated to America and about how she experinced culture shock. She wasn't fleeing from the kamer roge and she didn't have to through her dead body of the side of a ship. (At least i hope not.) I dont even think she came here on a boat. I gave this book three stars. This is because although it teached me alot about cambodian tradition and about imigration I didnt find it all that interesting. It would have been beter if there was a twist at the end of the book. I recomend this book to annybody who is interested in real world events or has imigrated.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristine Kouba

    Plot summary: The main character's family has fled from Cambodia to the United States. They wanted to escape the war, killings, and horror taking place in their country. This story shows how the Sundara, the main character adjusts to life in America Main Characters: Sundara - long black hair, shy, teenager, learned French first, now is trying to learn English. In high school, wants to fit in, wants to adjust well to American traditions/ways, but wants and is pressured to stay true to her family's Plot summary: The main character's family has fled from Cambodia to the United States. They wanted to escape the war, killings, and horror taking place in their country. This story shows how the Sundara, the main character adjusts to life in America Main Characters: Sundara - long black hair, shy, teenager, learned French first, now is trying to learn English. In high school, wants to fit in, wants to adjust well to American traditions/ways, but wants and is pressured to stay true to her family's values. Longing to know if her parents are still alive, feels guilty about the death of Soka's child. Tries not to fall for Johnathan, but being with him feels comforting and good to her. Admires Johnathon's father, she wants to become a doctor Johnathan - star football player, has the cheerleader girlfriend, parents are wealthy. He is an only child, not in love with playing football - wishes coach and others would not push him as much/make football seem incredibly important. Becomes interested in Sundara because of a project. Doesn't seem to understand the rules of Sundara's aunt and uncle. Thinks Sundara is beautiful and enjoys spending time with her Key issues: war, family values, falling in love, Cambodia Other interesting information: passages from text: "Changing schools was nothing compared to changing countries" p. 12 "And surely being faithful did not mean involving herself with an American boy. Shame" p. 126 "...No she mustn't think of it. She was not allowed to love Johathan McKinnon. Still, whatever happened, it was a wonderful feeling, knowing her loved her" p. 159

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Children of the river by Linda Crew is another book with an immigration theme. The main character Sundara leaves Cambodia with her aunts family to escape the communist Khmer Rouge army and heads to the U.S. She is only thirteen and she leaves behind family including her parents, her brother, sister, and a boy she has cared about since she was young. She constantly struggles to fit in at her high school in Oregon, but at the same time, she struggles to keep some of her Cambodian traditions that Children of the river by Linda Crew is another book with an immigration theme. The main character Sundara leaves Cambodia with her aunts family to escape the communist Khmer Rouge army and heads to the U.S. She is only thirteen and she leaves behind family including her parents, her brother, sister, and a boy she has cared about since she was young. She constantly struggles to fit in at her high school in Oregon, but at the same time, she struggles to keep some of her Cambodian traditions that would make her parents happy. Sundara soon meets Jonathan, the star of the football team. The two have a relationship but Sundara's aunt, Soka wants it to end. She tries to be a good Cambodian girl and not date, as it is tradition to have family arrange marriage in Cambodia. But the two become closer. Sundara does hold on to a few traditions like speaking Khmer and French as well as respecting her elders. Ultimately she convinces her parents to look beyond the boundaries of culture. I definitely see a text to world connection with this story. The main theme is how immigrants struggle to adjust when entering this country. I believe this book showed this struggle accurately as Sundara had to balance between wanting to fit in as well as keep some Cambodian traditions. I would rate this book a 5 because I really enjoyed it and I thought it was very realistic as it was difficult for Sundara to please herself and her parents. At times she even appealed to feel guilty about not being what her family would consider a "good Cambodian girl". I would recommend this book to anyone who can relate to the struggles of adjusting to a new culture.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sovotchka

    "Children of the River" tells the story of Sundara. A young Cambodian girl, she is staying with her aunt and uncle when the Khmer Rouge sweep to power and she has to flee to America. Sundara has to find a way to live in a new culture, and deal with meeting an American boy she likes but that her family disapproves of, without having any news about her loved ones back in Cambodia. Story-wise this book is very interesting, and you do learn a lot about immigrant life in the USA in the 1970s. I also "Children of the River" tells the story of Sundara. A young Cambodian girl, she is staying with her aunt and uncle when the Khmer Rouge sweep to power and she has to flee to America. Sundara has to find a way to live in a new culture, and deal with meeting an American boy she likes but that her family disapproves of, without having any news about her loved ones back in Cambodia. Story-wise this book is very interesting, and you do learn a lot about immigrant life in the USA in the 1970s. I also quite like the ending, as it feels very appropriate and is not as corny as I had feared it would be. There is one unfortunate thing though. The author is not a very good writer. Whether it's the characters that aren't all that likeable (and remain flat for the most part), or the decision to have Sundara speak very simple English in dialogue and have endless poetic and philosophical thoughts in her head, or the fact that vital parts of the story are skipped or skimmed over, this is not a well-written book. Therefore I would not recommend it, even though I've learned a lot. I'm actually a bit sad, because this could have been done way better, and had the potential to become really great.

  10. 4 out of 5

    06sydneyj

    How would you like to be whisked away one night without your parents or knowing where your going? Then come to find out your going to a totally different country and all your friends and family are being killed by the second. This is what happened to Sandara, a Khmer girl from Cambodia, in the book "Children of the River" by Linda Crew. She is now a Junior in High school 4 years later and nothing has changed, things are still just as hard. If trying to find new friends and fitting into a new cu How would you like to be whisked away one night without your parents or knowing where your going? Then come to find out your going to a totally different country and all your friends and family are being killed by the second. This is what happened to Sandara, a Khmer girl from Cambodia, in the book "Children of the River" by Linda Crew. She is now a Junior in High school 4 years later and nothing has changed, things are still just as hard. If trying to find new friends and fitting into a new culture isn't hard enough, how about never finding your parents and having the love of your life and future husband killed? Things would be hard ecspecially if you fell in love with a forbidden American boy. This is somewhat how Sandaras life is, but because of the trick ending no one knows what happens to her. I liked this book even though it was very informational and wasn't much of a story. The best part for me was the romance so I would probably reccomend it to young adults or grownups. I learned alot about Cambodia and the Pol Pot era and feel very bad for all the families that suffered through that. I gave this book 3 stars, good job Linda!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cloe Stocking

    Childeren of the River by Linda Crew is about a cambodian family comeing to America because they are running from the Khmer Rouge after teh Vietnam War. The main girl, Sundara, is trying to fit in in a new school adn enviroment. She falls in love with the football star Jonathan, but it is against her culture to date. Through the book she is hiding their love from her Aunt. They are discovered and she is not alowed to see him any more. She loves him so much through that she tries convincing her A Childeren of the River by Linda Crew is about a cambodian family comeing to America because they are running from the Khmer Rouge after teh Vietnam War. The main girl, Sundara, is trying to fit in in a new school adn enviroment. She falls in love with the football star Jonathan, but it is against her culture to date. Through the book she is hiding their love from her Aunt. They are discovered and she is not alowed to see him any more. She loves him so much through that she tries convincing her Aunt to let her see him and/or date. I thought that the book was pretty well written. The author is a cultural outsider, but she was still able to show the American Dream very well by showing them looking for a better life. It was very authentic and felt real while you were reading it. it is also in 3rd persaon perspective and done well. I would recomend this book to people looking to learn/read about the American Dream.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laken Scott

    This is one of those books you're pleasantly surprised by. I had to read this book for school so I immediately assumed it would suck. Naturally. But as I got into it I really started to enjoy it. The whole refugee idea is something I don't hear much about and this book was very enlightening for me. It also talked about customs of Cambodia and their traditional family structure which is so different from what we're used to. This book was also a cheesy romance which (if I'm honest) are my guilty p This is one of those books you're pleasantly surprised by. I had to read this book for school so I immediately assumed it would suck. Naturally. But as I got into it I really started to enjoy it. The whole refugee idea is something I don't hear much about and this book was very enlightening for me. It also talked about customs of Cambodia and their traditional family structure which is so different from what we're used to. This book was also a cheesy romance which (if I'm honest) are my guilty pleasures. 5/5 stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I swear I only read this because I found it on my bookshelf after the move and had nothing else. The Cambodian inmigrant falling in love with the high school football star was entertaining, but seriously... That's what I get for reading young adult's novels.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    A lovely, sweet, short read. "If you love someone, you better let them know while you can."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Even though this is a fictional novel, it was nice to hear a story from the perspective of a refugee, especially in our current political context. The strong part of the book was the author's covering of the struggles of being violently uprooted from one's homeland, and navigating the questions of identity and belonging that accompany settling in a new, foreign land. The dowside to the book was certain aspects of the relationship with Jonathan. Sure, it helped to show the nuanced attitudes certai Even though this is a fictional novel, it was nice to hear a story from the perspective of a refugee, especially in our current political context. The strong part of the book was the author's covering of the struggles of being violently uprooted from one's homeland, and navigating the questions of identity and belonging that accompany settling in a new, foreign land. The dowside to the book was certain aspects of the relationship with Jonathan. Sure, it helped to show the nuanced attitudes certain people have of marrying outside of one's ethincity/culture. On the other hand, it was a tad too cliché. American-dream quarterback hottie is actually an undercover liberal progressist searching for spritual fulfillment, finding it in Sundara. Perhaps I'm just jaded because the boys I went to highschool with were a bunch of pothead racists who didn't give a crap about world issues. Then again, my highschool didn't have an international relations class. All in all, it gave me feels more than once. I'm glad I read it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    This book deals with a lot of mature themes. Not mature as in for-adult-eyes-only, but mature as in not childish. There is the horror of genocide. Survivor's guilt. Culture clash. Traditional values vs. modern values. American openness vs. Cambodian conservativeness. Obedience and duty vs. being true to yourself. Generational conflict. Orphanhood. Sacrifice. Putting your money (and your life) where your idealist mouth is. Feminism. Class conflict. Arranged marriages, polygamy, and divorce. Child This book deals with a lot of mature themes. Not mature as in for-adult-eyes-only, but mature as in not childish. There is the horror of genocide. Survivor's guilt. Culture clash. Traditional values vs. modern values. American openness vs. Cambodian conservativeness. Obedience and duty vs. being true to yourself. Generational conflict. Orphanhood. Sacrifice. Putting your money (and your life) where your idealist mouth is. Feminism. Class conflict. Arranged marriages, polygamy, and divorce. Child labor. Healthy respect- and friendship-based romantic relationships. Childhood innocence vs. global vision and responsibility. Fear vs. hope. This is a book I want my children to read. I think it will help them see the world more clearly, view people with more empathy, and understand their own capacity to make a difference. I'm definitely going to own this one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    D.

    Gets a Young Adult four to five stars. This story, though fiction is entirely based on actual events during the Cambodian genocide. The author captures the feeling so well, of a teen brought to the US culture of the 1980s and 90s- but with a childhood in Cambodia. To say more would spoil the plot- Very recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Van

    One of the best romance books ever. Must read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ana Pau

    3.5⭐ 3.5⭐️

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    I was assigned this book to read and I liked it a lot. Super funny and so cute! Wish I had this experience with a boy like Jonathan in high school!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tabby

    I read this when I was somewhere around 13, it was one that made me think. I remember small details from it all the time still.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Macey Groves

    i liked it although the way the aunt treats her drives me crazy

  23. 5 out of 5

    Moktoklee

    This book isn’t perfect, that’s for sure. There are some sluggish sections, but I think that Crew wanted the reader to recognize those parts and from that perspective, those parts do contributes to the story. I’ve never been a big fan of that kind writing but whatever, it’s not an illogical conclusion to draw. But other than those bits I quite liked this book. I suppose it’s classified as a ‘young-adults’ book, but when I read this a long time ago I had no idea who the communists or the Khmer Ro This book isn’t perfect, that’s for sure. There are some sluggish sections, but I think that Crew wanted the reader to recognize those parts and from that perspective, those parts do contributes to the story. I’ve never been a big fan of that kind writing but whatever, it’s not an illogical conclusion to draw. But other than those bits I quite liked this book. I suppose it’s classified as a ‘young-adults’ book, but when I read this a long time ago I had no idea who the communists or the Khmer Rouge were. I just knew they were evil bad guys. Coming back to it years later I know about all this stuff and find different aspects of the story that I didn’t notice before. I think books should grow like that and change with the reader. Another reason I liked it: I liked the characters. Jonathan is just such a typical high school aged guy that’s completely hilarious for some reason. Even the characters I didn’t really like, farmer what’s his name, I sort of liked. Not because I just didn’t want those characters to be there, but because they were shady characters. The family were all very funny as well, even when they weren’t. Another thing, sometimes authors who write about cultures or cultural groups tend to forget about the writing and only talk about cultures. Sometimes authors can pull it off if they run at the issue head on and make that issue; authors forgetting about the story and focusing on the multicultural, strangeness and differentness of people, the theme of the entire story. And sometimes, authors can pull off stories like this when they focus on the people, the characters of the story. Some authors make this concept that all the people in the world are all human, extremely difficult for the reader to figure out and by that time it’s too late for the reader to be able to relate to them. I really have no idea why that’s so difficult, but anyways. Crew does this extremely well. She establishes the Sundara as human and relatable from the very beginning. From there she moves on to tackle other important issues like racism and women’s discrimination without seeming like a feminist lecturer or preach didactic social values. Nobody really cares about that. Crew can do this because the reader can relate to Sundara. Why? Because she’s human. I just hate it when authors use their character just to prove one of their damn social justice, evil of mankind, dumbness of people opinions points. Anything feminist. 1984. Lord of the Flies. Hate it. Even if they’re right. I just hate it. It bores me to tears and if it doesn’t I just end up hating the story and I never want to read that particular book or anything from that particular author ever again. There were so many places for this story to go wrong and it just didn’t do that. There are one or two parts where the multiculturalist excessiveness come into play, but that’s it. And those bits don’t take away anything from the main ideas of the story. Very impressive. It is a simple story but that’s not a real criticism. If it had been more complex I probably would have accused Crew of being guilty of the same crimes as most other multiculturalist writers. Being simple does not make a story commonplace and this story is definitely not commonplace. This book isn’t perfect, but I like it anyways. And I know that I liked it for good reasons.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Liza Centeio

    Liza's Book Review I just finished reading this book which is called Children Of The River whos author is Linda Crew. This book is fiction. You may not automaticaly pick this up when your reading it but this book has several themes. The themes that I picked up were families, the individual vs. society, race(culture), and romance. Your probably wondering how could a book have so much themes but It's possible just like this one. I randomly choose this book off my teachers shelf so I can have an i Liza's Book Review I just finished reading this book which is called Children Of The River whos author is Linda Crew. This book is fiction. You may not automaticaly pick this up when your reading it but this book has several themes. The themes that I picked up were families, the individual vs. society, race(culture), and romance. Your probably wondering how could a book have so much themes but It's possible just like this one. I randomly choose this book off my teachers shelf so I can have an independent reading book. Come to find out this book was good but had I'ts boring parts. The begining was shaky but then ended good. What kept It good was the twists and turns that you wont belive thats happening. The main idea about this book is about a teenage cambodian girl who moved from her hometown cambodia. She left behind her immediate family and came to U.S with her aunt Soka, her uncle, and her little cousins. As she trys to fit in and be that "American girl" at her Orgen High School she also trys her best to follow her religious rules and be that "good cambodian girl". As her and her family struggle from money, jobs, and the "khmer Rouge army" she still finds a way to try to satisfy her needs and make her self happpy. Sundara was trying to be that "good cambodian girl" which includes refusing to date until her family is to arrange her marriage to another cambodian boy. Until she was drawn to this boy name Jonatan that attends her school. She continued her relationship with him while trying to convince her religious family the bright side to all of this and to look behind and beyond their cultures. And finally her family gave in and let them be. Overall I gave this book a rating of three out of five. The reason why i gave this book that rating is because the book had good parts and some suspense to it but then some of the parts can literally put you to sleep. The part that I found the most interseting and funny actually was when she first met Jonatan because of the way she was describing him. For an example on page 28 and 29 the author which is sundara just goes on talking about his muscles and his tanned thighs. She even remembers when he read that paper about that cafeteria food. I really didnt have any questions while reading this book because they were all answered in the middle or end. But one of the things that got answered was that sundara is the author. If I was to recomend this book I would'nt just recomend it to someone random. The reason why I say that because this is a type of book a lot of people wont enjoy. So If I was to recomend it im going to give it to someone that will cherish the recomendation and love the book. Thats why im going to give it to my aunt. I choose her because she is a type of person that is not interested in "ghetto books" she likes books that she could relate to. And i srongly belive she could relate to this book in so many different ways. I never ever read a book like this in my life and if I did I wouldnt finish it Because my typical books are the "ghetto ones" or one which as a lot of drama. In conclusion, this book was worth all my time reading because i learned a lot of religious stuff. Not only that but this was my first book that I read that was set like this. So I look forward to reading books that dont have a lot of drama.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Imagine having to leave your family to a new country that is on the opposite side of the world. This is was happened to a young girl, Sundara Sovann, in Children of the River. The author Linda Crew writes about Sundara's life in America, after escaping the war torn county of Cambodia at the age of 13 because of the Khmer Rouge attack on her homeland. Sundara had to leave her parents, friends, siblings and Chamreoun - the boy she loved. (view spoiler)[ Now at 17, Sundara lives in Willamette Grove w Imagine having to leave your family to a new country that is on the opposite side of the world. This is was happened to a young girl, Sundara Sovann, in Children of the River. The author Linda Crew writes about Sundara's life in America, after escaping the war torn county of Cambodia at the age of 13 because of the Khmer Rouge attack on her homeland. Sundara had to leave her parents, friends, siblings and Chamreoun - the boy she loved. (view spoiler)[ Now at 17, Sundara lives in Willamette Grove with her Aunt Soka, Uncle Naro, Grandmother and her two younger cousins, Ravy and Pon. Her family picks tomatoes in the afternoon and Sundara works at the Saturday market selling crops. Sundara is still coping with the new American lifestyle. Sundara must learn the customs and expectations of the people in her environment. To her, it is very different in comparison to the strict up bringing of a proper Cambodian girl. Sundara continues to be shocked at the attitude of students toward their teacher, American clothes, and many other things that were done differently in her country. Sundara is in many was a proper Cambodian girl, but is trying to fit in as an American girl. One big difference between the Cambodian lifestyle and the American one is she was not allowed to date. She attends high school in Willamette Grove and meets Johnathan McKinnon, an American football player. Through her time in school, Sundara becomes fond of Jonathan. She explains to him things about Cambodia and her belief that "life is like a river". The two fall in love and Sundara goes against her families customs and beliefs to be with Jonathan. Sundara gets confused and disappointed in herself when she thinks about Chamreoun, the boy she was to marry back in Cambodian (in the Cambodian culture it is important that a young girl marries the Khmer way, arranged marriage). Sundara is caught between two worlds, between the Cambodian custom and the American custom. Sundara was forbidden to see Jonathan, only because he was Caucasian. Soka, her aunt tells her, "Forget American boys. Do you want to married and divorced, over and over? You deserve better. Hold yourself above this niece. You must marry the Khmer way". It's important for Sundara to find her place in the culture in which she now lives, but also in the culture she left behind by sacrificing her own happiness. In the end Jonathan's father who is a doctor, volunteered to go to the refugee camps in the Thai-Cambodian border and help. He asked Sundara's uncle for permission if Sundara would teach him Khmer because he needed to be able to speak with the people. Sundara and Jonathan became very close during her time at the McKinnon's. Her aunt and uncle finally agreed that they could no longer force Sundara to not be with the one that she love. (hide spoiler)] This book is well written and makes you aware of cultural differences. It show the difficulties in moving into another culture; being torn between old traditions and having a new one begin. Children of the River puts you in the heart and soul of the characters, letting you feel the way they do and experience what they are experiencing. I think all readers can identify themselves through this romantic story dealing with cross-cultures. 02/28/04

  26. 4 out of 5

    Josh Stoll

    Review: I enjoyed reading this book. It's not exactly the best-written book I've ever read, but the themes-- immigration, fitting in, interracial romance-- can be heady and its consideration of them are complex, particularly for a young adult novel. The writing can trip up the themes, though, as it's a bit too simplistic in plot, and even a bit dangerous in its consideration of love-- I picture the end scene of The Graduate whenever Sundara and Jonathan talked about love. Plot: The story is about Review: I enjoyed reading this book. It's not exactly the best-written book I've ever read, but the themes-- immigration, fitting in, interracial romance-- can be heady and its consideration of them are complex, particularly for a young adult novel. The writing can trip up the themes, though, as it's a bit too simplistic in plot, and even a bit dangerous in its consideration of love-- I picture the end scene of The Graduate whenever Sundara and Jonathan talked about love. Plot: The story is about a Cambodian girl who comes to America in the wake of the Khmer Rouge sweeping through her town. The rest of her immediate family stayed behind, so she lives with her overly-harsh aunt and somewhat distant uncle in America. The conflicts come from many sides, but it boils down to the pressure to conform to American culture at school and the pressure to maintain tradition at home. Cambodian tradition has some very strict ideas about love, family, and responsibility, and how those ideas contrast American ideals, unfortunately, manifests in Sundara's daily life. Main Characters: Sundara, a teenage Cambodian girl who moves to America with her aunt and uncle to escape the Khmer Rouge. She is an interesting character-- she was thirteen when she was in Cambodia, and had already started establishing her identity there, unlike her younger cousins. All throughout the book, she never speaks perfect English, which is part of what makes her interesting-- it's representative of how much trouble she has fitting in. She wants to adopt a more American way of life, even while keeping some traditions for her own culture-- but she is polite, soft-spoken, even submissive. To make matters worse, she feels she owes a debt to her aunt, whose baby's death she feels responsible for. Jonathan: Jonathan is a star football player at Sundara's high school who develops a crush on Sundara, something she can't understand. She exposes him to all the tragedy of Cambodia, and he begins to become aware that his charmed life is the exception, not the rule. He's a sensitive kid, and intelligent, but what interests me about him is that the author perfectly captures that zeal of the newly converted-- wanting to know more, proselytizing his views, and so on. Soka: The aunt was a flat character most of the way through the book-- the shrill, demanding, hard-working caretaker. But she becomes more and more complex as the book progresses, which is a pleasant surprise. Without revealing anything, more facets of her character are revealed as the book goes on. Key issues: Cambodia and its culture, immigration, Khmer Rouge, fitting in, young adulthood Other Interesting Information: The setting is mostly in a town in America, although the first few pages cover Sundara's escape from Cambodia. This book is told in third person perspective, limited to Sundara. If the theme of culture clash interests you, you might check out Shame by Salman Rushdie, Brick Lane by Monica Ali, or The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan.

  27. 4 out of 5

    02oliviab

    Children of the River Children of the River is by Linda Crew and was published in 1989. This story takes place in Cambodia in 1975. If this story took place long long ago it would be a little different because there wouldn't be airplanes that can hold a lot of passengers safely, so they couldn't take the people in Cambodia to America. Also if it took place about right now, then there could be more planes to take people out of Cambodia to America. The things I liked about this book is how Sundar Children of the River Children of the River is by Linda Crew and was published in 1989. This story takes place in Cambodia in 1975. If this story took place long long ago it would be a little different because there wouldn't be airplanes that can hold a lot of passengers safely, so they couldn't take the people in Cambodia to America. Also if it took place about right now, then there could be more planes to take people out of Cambodia to America. The things I liked about this book is how Sundara became a stronger person, but one thing I didn't like is how Cambodia is being taken over, and how her family was left behind when she came to America.I think this book is unique because it is about how people lived in Cambodia and had to move to America and change their lifestyle. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to learn about history of Cambodia and for people who would like to know what it would be like to live in Cambodia and change your lifestyle to fit America's lifestyle. This story is about a 13 year old girl named Sundara who climbs on a bot with her Aunt Soka and her family. While the Cambodians government is being taken over. Sundara watches Soka's baby because Soka is too sick, but the baby gets too sick and she dies. Sundara reaches America and goes to an American school. She meets a boy named Johnathon and they start to love each other. Soka doesn't allow Sundara to be with him, Soka wants her to marry the Khmer way. Sundara promises to not speak to Johnathon ever again, but Chamroen dies and Johnathon can tell she is sad. So Johnathon talks to Sundara and Sundara tells Johnathon about Chamroen dying. Jonathon gets hurt in football and goes to the hospital. Sundara visits Johnathon at the hospital while she is supposed to be grocery shopping. Johnathon then quits the football team. Cathie and the football coach get mad at Sundara for him quitting. Soka and Sundara get in a fight and Sundara goes to the dump. Sundara teaches Dr. Mckinnon Khmer. Dr. Mckinnon then goes to help the camps. Sundara learns the babies death was not her fault and Soka doesn't blame Sundara for the death. Soka's sister Vallin makes it to America. Vallin tells Sundara Mayoury is in a Thailand camp. Sundara no longer lets Soka get in the way of being with Johnathon.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This historical fiction is set in the 1970s when many Cambodians were fleeing from the brutal regime of the Khmer rouge. Sundara is a Cambodian refugee who is living with her aunt and uncle's family, and it is a story about her living in two cultures and trying to adapt to living in America. I read this with my son who read it for his English class. The characters are a bit one-dimensional like the tyrannical aunt, but it is an insightful story about refugees and their lives.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    This story is set during the reign of the Khmer Rouge (think Brown Shirts, but in Cambodia) and Sundara's family is one of a number of families in her village that are being targeted. Panicked, they gather together everyone they can find RIGHT NOW, and board a boat that is going somewhere else. They know virtually nothing about what is about to happen. Crucial events happen on this voyage that will color their experience as a family in the new world. I won't give too much away; even adults can en This story is set during the reign of the Khmer Rouge (think Brown Shirts, but in Cambodia) and Sundara's family is one of a number of families in her village that are being targeted. Panicked, they gather together everyone they can find RIGHT NOW, and board a boat that is going somewhere else. They know virtually nothing about what is about to happen. Crucial events happen on this voyage that will color their experience as a family in the new world. I won't give too much away; even adults can enjoy this book. I did. Sundara finds herself in the United States, and she attends high school. The cultural conflict is severe. She is not allowed to speak to boys at school, and certainly not to date them. Marriages are arranged. Yet at school, expectations are completely different, and she is adapting more rapidly than older family members (as younger immigrants typically do). She wants to fit in. She wants to have fun. AND...she MUST NOT betray her family. Due to earlier unnamed events, she already carries a heavy load of guilt that she feels she may need to spend her entire life repaying. I spent a decade teaching in a middle school that had very large numbers of Asian and Pacific Islander students. Although my Caucasian daughter brought this book to my attention, the better readers among my Asian/P.I. girls snapped this book up. There is not a lot of contemporary fiction out there about this particular ethnic group (and as far as I know, NOTHING about Pacific Islander kids, who consider themselves, and are, very different from mainland and SE Asian kids). I am so glad that this one book is so good. Even boys read it, and appreciate it. If you are looking for a Christmas gift for such a young person, this is not a bad idea, because as far as I know, I am the only one who ever used it in class. The media, education programs, and teachers tend to look largely at black and white, and it is Asian, Native, and Hispanic children who are left out in the rain. This book is awesome, and deserves more attention. The reader does need to be genuinely at grade 8-12 reading level to be able to plow through this, however.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is placed in the late 1970's. It is disappointing for two reasons: it contains neither a disco ball nor a lengthy description of flared bell bottoms. Outside of these shortcomings, it is an excellent story. Sundara is the main character, a Cambodian refugee (Khmer) that leaves her homeland with her aunt, uncle and cousins to come to America. They end up settled in Oregon. This novel contains excellent detail of the cultural differences she is forced to accommodate. Her experience within This book is placed in the late 1970's. It is disappointing for two reasons: it contains neither a disco ball nor a lengthy description of flared bell bottoms. Outside of these shortcomings, it is an excellent story. Sundara is the main character, a Cambodian refugee (Khmer) that leaves her homeland with her aunt, uncle and cousins to come to America. They end up settled in Oregon. This novel contains excellent detail of the cultural differences she is forced to accommodate. Her experience within the American classroom is especially a shock. Confrontation is avoided at all costs in her homeland, while her classmates in America are encouraged to argue with each other. Also, in Cambodia you never ask your teacher questions, which assumes they do not explain things well and would be seen as an insult. The book also sheds light on ways that different cultures show love. Americans have to be careful of how they show affection to Kmer. You don't tussle the hair of a kid, or anyone, because the Khmer are Buddhists and believe the soul resides in the head and will be released, also losing intelligence, by having their head is moved. Another thing that would seem odd to American culture is that by stepping over someone laying down you are, to the Khmer way of think, shoveling dirt upon them. This coming-of-age tale is well written. It contains brief looks into the fall of Vietnam and the Cambodian genocide. The target audience would be higher achieving junior high students and above. Young Adult readers may some difficulty with the pop culture references (the movie "10" with Bo Derek, etc.), but this would be a small hindrance at worst. This book is not just for girls, the love interest is a star wide receiver on the football team.

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