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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. 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. 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.

  2. 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-immig 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!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I really enjoyed and appreciated this story! It's 1979 and Sundara is a 17-year-old Cambodian refugee living in Oregon. She escaped from the Khmer Rouge with her aunt and uncle's family four years before. She does not know what happened to her parents and siblings. Not only does this story illuminate an immigrant's struggle with living in between her Khmer culture and expectations, and American culture, we also see the years of writing letters and receiving letters from strangers in camps, the a I really enjoyed and appreciated this story! It's 1979 and Sundara is a 17-year-old Cambodian refugee living in Oregon. She escaped from the Khmer Rouge with her aunt and uncle's family four years before. She does not know what happened to her parents and siblings. Not only does this story illuminate an immigrant's struggle with living in between her Khmer culture and expectations, and American culture, we also see the years of writing letters and receiving letters from strangers in camps, the aftermath of living through extreme trauma, the years of hope, the years of working hard in school and going straight to physical labor. It's amazing to get a small window into one (fictional) experience. Sundara does not understand the extent of the violence and killing in Cambodia until she comes to America and learns about it in the news. Refugees finally move on and remarry only to later discover that their spouse is alive in a camp... Yes, the boy who's fascinated by Sundara's poem is a blond, blue-eyed football player. But I found him refreshingly three dimensional. I love that he stands up to his parents and that his dad actually listens and takes real action. I like that this novel doesn't tie everything up in a neat bow, as far as the teen romance, but gives us a realistic yet satisfying ending. So much to learn from novels like these. I applaud Linda Crew's efforts and also hope for more #ownvoices YA refugee and immigrant stories. We all need to read many, many of these. "Surely America was an amazing country, and worth feeling thankful for. But the way some Americans talked, you'd think this was the only country on earth worth loving" (189).

  4. 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 :'(

  5. 4 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Stoddard

    Excellent book. Story telling well done and I feel I have learned a lot. I didn't know much about the Cambodian refugees until I read this book. Excellent book. Story telling well done and I feel I have learned a lot. I didn't know much about the Cambodian refugees until I read this book.

  7. 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.

  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. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 5 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!

  12. 4 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Angela Blount

    Culturally rich and poignantly memorable. A young refugee of Cambodia's horrific civil war struggles to assimilate into American culture, and even more courageously, into life at a public high school. A haunting trauma from her past catches up to her, demanding to be faced even as she is otherwise overwhelmed with the possibility of experiencing first love. This story clung to me for years after I read it, and proved to be a tremendous insight when I encountered a number of Somalian refugee stude Culturally rich and poignantly memorable. A young refugee of Cambodia's horrific civil war struggles to assimilate into American culture, and even more courageously, into life at a public high school. A haunting trauma from her past catches up to her, demanding to be faced even as she is otherwise overwhelmed with the possibility of experiencing first love. This story clung to me for years after I read it, and proved to be a tremendous insight when I encountered a number of Somalian refugee students in the middle of my high school career. While the cultures bare little resemblance, the difficulties of immigration, culture shock, post-traumatic stress, and language barriers all bare the same echo. I don't know if I would have been able to be as empathetic toward their situation if I hadn't previously been introduced to this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    05gmiyster

    Pages:213 This book is about a girl named Sundara and she lives in a place called Panom Phen. And she has to leave to Oregon because her town is being attaked by Nazis. So she moved there and she has to make new girl freinds but not boy ones though because she cant hang with boys unless the parents approve because their parents have to make a arranged marriages and thats the only boy they can hang out with. Because thats her religon so then she meets this boy named Johnathan and falls in love but Pages:213 This book is about a girl named Sundara and she lives in a place called Panom Phen. And she has to leave to Oregon because her town is being attaked by Nazis. So she moved there and she has to make new girl freinds but not boy ones though because she cant hang with boys unless the parents approve because their parents have to make a arranged marriages and thats the only boy they can hang out with. Because thats her religon so then she meets this boy named Johnathan and falls in love but she cant talk to him. Because her parent don't want her talking to a American boy. Because it could be bad luck. So then she finds out that the person she is supposed to marry got killed in the war so she is so sad. But then she falls in love with Johnathan again. And they get married and live happaly ever after.

  15. 4 out of 5

    E

    A nice blend of some challenging EQ issues for young adults. Also, a soft introduction to some very heavy geopolitical issues as well. For better or worse, introducing genocide as a side story is a murky thing, but prime for rich character development. I read this decades ago as a pre-teen and I’d be lying if I said I loved it then but it was a fast read and I was pulled in by the complex issues it raised about genocide and immigration. I was in 8th grade and had to look up the Cambodian genocid A nice blend of some challenging EQ issues for young adults. Also, a soft introduction to some very heavy geopolitical issues as well. For better or worse, introducing genocide as a side story is a murky thing, but prime for rich character development. I read this decades ago as a pre-teen and I’d be lying if I said I loved it then but it was a fast read and I was pulled in by the complex issues it raised about genocide and immigration. I was in 8th grade and had to look up the Cambodian genocide and otherwise would have never been exposed to this important issue (and I mean ever, because my honors/AP history classes never really covered it; thanks english class!). Since my grandmother was bullied by the Klu Klux Klan in southern Illinois during the 1920’s, I had an interest in these social issues. I think having read this book when I was in 8th grade as well as other books on genocide, I was better equipped to have those difficult conversations as a teenager and to bridge cultural divides during high school and later in life. America is a melting pot, but it’s painful trying to blend in as a teenager and also pay the homage to ones heritage that parents expect at the same time. This is a universal immigrant teenager problem. I saw it a lot with Mexican-American students I coached as an adult. I saw it a lot when I was a teenager myself with many of my friends who were 1st & 2nd gen American. If you are a student reading it now, try to appreciate that it’s not what you want it to be, but that is by design. It’s written from someone else’s cultural experience, not yours. If you’re bored, skip a few paragraphs or jump to the end. It’s also good exposure (a gateway drug to better books and serious topics for contemplation later). Don’t be ignorant. Your adult self will appreciate it. I definitely think the book made me kinder and more empathetic towards others for having read it even if I didn’t love it at the time. Applications to real life? In grade school no one wanted to sit by a kid who recently immigrated to the US because they ate weird sandwiches that smelled funny (to this day I have no idea what; I don’t even remember where they were from; only that they were different and that was ‘weird’). By the time I was in high school though, I was really sensing a west-side story vibe between some slavic students and my American friends and tried to play peacemaker. Who planted that seed? Linda Crew et al.? Hm... This book was an important read in that it opened doors to understanding complex cultural identities for immigrant teenagers. I was a basic suburban “popular chick” (team sports & vice president). I had immigrant friends in high school from very different social groups: “party friends” and “nerds”. For the former, my friends from Serbia and Albania had fast cars and crazy parties but deep down were mentally still processing shit from their homeland (like their Aunt finding their baby was boiled in a pot by soldier during the genocide—horrors that fortunately only come out after the party has gone home and your friend has had too much vodka). When we became friends I could appreciate their need to normalize their experiences and mentally shut down so they could “fit in” with other kids in our school; speak the language; party; survive the brutal teenage years—just like this book’s protagonist but in a less subdued way. We can talk cliches all day but slowly my go-to-best-friend in high school became a quirky Pakistani-American who despite all cultural ‘ticks’ became a lifelong friend. My “popular friends” didn’t know we were besties until end of high school. Maybe I didn’t even realize we were best friends until then? 8,000 English papers later and complaining about books like this and poof! Did we just become best friend? Yup. In hindsight, I was ridiculed by my more popular peers during senior year, just like the characters in this book (those dicks!). Some of my “judge-ey” friends thought we were dating and made fun of it (we weren’t and his parents would have killed him for dating a non-muslim white American chick. Naturally, he was secretly dating a Polish-immigrant-non-muslim student instead, using me as a red herring, but I digress.). All that ridicule my senior year and you know what? I DIDN’T GIVE A FUCK. Just like Jonathan. I almost didn’t care if they thought we were dating. I tried to correct them once. After that I thought, “Maybe they SHOULD think we’re dating! Maybe jerks should just appreciate nerds win sometimes?” I guess in the end, I learned the same lessons as the characters in this book: Having a friend with true moral fiber beats basic blond bitches. Every. Damn. Day. My immigrant friend was way cooler, ate awesome spicy food, has a better career now then all of them combined (he’s a doctor), AND has a hot-ass muslim wife that he travels with all the time (boom, arranged marriage success!). They are both insta-beautiful (not that it matters, but they are). Last comment I’ll make: it’s really a book for pre-teens in that the romance volume is turned down low. The main characters are still getting aquatinted with those feelings so it’s a good soft introduction to the kinds of mixed up emotions we all have at that age. “What is love? Do I like them? Why do I feel this way? Why is my family so weird?” Pretty good tour of the same issues I’m sure we all revisit again and again as adults, but in a PG-rated preview. Hope that helps any parents or teachers on here.

  16. 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. 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

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

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Van

    One of the best romance books ever. Must read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rama

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “Children of the River” by Linda Crew was a summer reading assignment I returned to almost a decade later. It is more poignant now, particularly the themes and Crew’s portrayal of the characters, considering the current polarized political climate and the interpretations of what it means to be American. I understand Sundara’s struggles personally. I am a first generation American who grew up trying to balance the respect my family expected of me for my roots and the joys of participating in Amer “Children of the River” by Linda Crew was a summer reading assignment I returned to almost a decade later. It is more poignant now, particularly the themes and Crew’s portrayal of the characters, considering the current polarized political climate and the interpretations of what it means to be American. I understand Sundara’s struggles personally. I am a first generation American who grew up trying to balance the respect my family expected of me for my roots and the joys of participating in American customs that furthered my sense of independence. There is truth to the guilt of falling in love with someone outside of your parents hope for an arranged marriage, there is truth to the raw emotion of feeling burdened by what you know and understand about the deep-seated issues in your community, and trying to explain how certain ways of life like a man taking more than one wife or being born into a high-class doesn’t apply here. I enjoyed the fact Crew explores these topics so honestly, something many communities including mine skim over to save face. Like Sundara and her family dynamic, mine has also changed to observe a more American lifestyle to the benefit of our whole family. Things like dating, getting a job as a woman, choosing to attend extra-curricular functions are things that my family never allowed - and now it’s so normalized I forget how difficult the transition was for my parents, especially. I also support the concept of working hard in America to earn a living and support your family, succeeding despite difficulties. The plot avoids the whining of characters’ destitute, instead showing the wherewithal and responsibility shouldered by them despite to overcome their struggles. Moreover, the wisdom on life Crew offers, however fundamental, is important to return to. Conversations that involve the flow of life over a fork in the road or even the comments about identity between Cathy and Sundara. While this book was not popular among my classmates back then, I hope that they can return to it and see what this piece of literature offers. It’s a quick weekend read that has a classic take on high school romance with a happy twist. While it seems unrealistic, I air on the side of hope and possibility over the pessimism of impossibility. I learned about the war in Vietnam through the narration’s lens and I have a greater respect for the Vietnamese culture after being introduced to the customs and taking the opportunity to further research. I throughly enjoyed the book’s tone and language, as reading it brought me back to my own school experience with its gentle, sentimental choice of words from the weather to classrooms to second loves. I have my own copy and will likely reread it soon!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Children of the River by Linda Crew is a book that explores the life of Sundara, an immigrant from Cambodia who comes to America to escape the Khmer Rouge with her aunt, uncle, two younger cousins, and her grandmother. After a few years in America, Sundara falls in love with a white boy named Johnathan who goes to her school. She is loyal to her crush back in Kampuchea, but she can't help falling for him a little bit more every day. Johnathan is interested in learning and educating himself about Children of the River by Linda Crew is a book that explores the life of Sundara, an immigrant from Cambodia who comes to America to escape the Khmer Rouge with her aunt, uncle, two younger cousins, and her grandmother. After a few years in America, Sundara falls in love with a white boy named Johnathan who goes to her school. She is loyal to her crush back in Kampuchea, but she can't help falling for him a little bit more every day. Johnathan is interested in learning and educating himself about the difficult life that the Cambodians are experiencing back in her home country, so she works with him on his school project in their International Relations class. This book explores many controversial topics such as feminism, interracial relationships, immigration and, of course, Cambodia during the Khmer Rogue invasion. But I one hundred percent enjoyed reading this book. The writing was beautiful, and I loved the adorable romance between Johnathan and Sundara, but also how Sundara feels after her love's death from Cambodia and how she deals with survivor's guilt. Obviously, the book isn't completely innocent of slurs (oriental) but it's a really good read. Sundara's aunt, Soka, was really weird, too, but she does a complete 180 at the end of the book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    AllisonZ_C2

    When people think of the Vietnam War, they always imagine U.S soldiers getting marched off, bombs falling from the sky, and dead bodies littering the battlefields. Nobody really stops to consider the Vietnamese and Cambodian (the war wasn't solely concentrated to Vietnam) citizens, those who fled their home to brave the dangers of moving to a new country where they would have to start a new life completely from scratch. People only think of the bloody battles and whatever they're being shown, ne When people think of the Vietnam War, they always imagine U.S soldiers getting marched off, bombs falling from the sky, and dead bodies littering the battlefields. Nobody really stops to consider the Vietnamese and Cambodian (the war wasn't solely concentrated to Vietnam) citizens, those who fled their home to brave the dangers of moving to a new country where they would have to start a new life completely from scratch. People only think of the bloody battles and whatever they're being shown, never really considering what happens to the ordinary citizens who just so happened to be caught in the crossfire. As long as they themselves aren't in danger, people will just say things like "Oh, that's too bad" or "It's really unfortunate" before going on with their day and shoving those thoughts of misfortune to the back of their minds. Two characters from the book, Jonathan and Jonathan's father, are both quite like that. Jonathan, because he never really considered the fact that there would be refugees coming from the war to the U.S, and Jonathan's father, because when he was in a position to help tend to refugees in the refugee camps, it took his son shouting at him that he was useless before he actually decided to go.

  22. 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.

  23. 4 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.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anna Hawkins

    Children of the River was published in 1989. It follows the story of a young girl who moves to a town to escape from the war in Cambodia. She then finds herself talking to an American boy named Jonathan McKinnon, which is forbidden in her culture. The setting for this book is in Oregon. The girl and her aunt, uncle, and two cousins live there and they work on a farm where they pick food for a living. They live in a neighborhood called Willamette Grove. I enjoyed the story. It has beautifully wri Children of the River was published in 1989. It follows the story of a young girl who moves to a town to escape from the war in Cambodia. She then finds herself talking to an American boy named Jonathan McKinnon, which is forbidden in her culture. The setting for this book is in Oregon. The girl and her aunt, uncle, and two cousins live there and they work on a farm where they pick food for a living. They live in a neighborhood called Willamette Grove. I enjoyed the story. It has beautifully written themes of love, loss, and guilt. I also loved the realistic ending. It is one of my favorite books. I liked the line, “Oh, why did people have to he separated before they understood how much they meant to each other?”

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Jackson

    A cute book. I was skeptical going in that Children of the River would be a cringeworthy story of a Cambodian girl written by a white woman, Linda Crew, but from my limited point of view it seemed Crew invented a story that was respectful and poignant to Khmer people—at least I hope so. The story of Sundara's journey to America and her navigating the big river of American high school romance, Children of the River is an easy but moving read about family and culture. I enjoyed the story, cliched A cute book. I was skeptical going in that Children of the River would be a cringeworthy story of a Cambodian girl written by a white woman, Linda Crew, but from my limited point of view it seemed Crew invented a story that was respectful and poignant to Khmer people—at least I hope so. The story of Sundara's journey to America and her navigating the big river of American high school romance, Children of the River is an easy but moving read about family and culture. I enjoyed the story, cliched though it was in some aspects.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    This YA novel is a great complement to Loung Ung’s memoir First They Killed my Father. They both present first-hand experiences of Cambodian girls who fled the Khmer Rouge Cambodia in the 1970s with family members, traveled through refugee camps in Thailand, and then dealt with reframing their lives as immigrants in the U.S. It deals well with the universals of guilt and grieving, and also paints an accurate picture of white middle class America in 1979.

  27. 5 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jayne

    This was my FAVORITE book for a very long time. I initially read it for school but I reread it more times than any other book. The way the protagonist deals with her emotions and trauma is very powerful and beautifully written. I learned a lot and absolutely fell in love with the characters. I think this book is very underrated and am surprised it is not more well known.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Z

    Another perspective on Cambodia. It was interesting to have read at the same time as "First They Killed My Father" because, although that one is more biographical and this one more fictional, they each fill in different parts of the story. Another perspective on Cambodia. It was interesting to have read at the same time as "First They Killed My Father" because, although that one is more biographical and this one more fictional, they each fill in different parts of the story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Williams

    This is an older book (1989) which I just read this summer. I liked the way the character struggled with not only being a teenager, but also how to balance her tradition and past with her new reality. I did some other reading about Cambodia, too, to help me frame the story.

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