The Khmer Rouge Genocide

“First They Killed My Father” Book review

Author: Luong Ung

Ratings: *****

Type of book: Memoir


          “First They Killed My Father,” is a heart-breaking memoir of Luong Ung. It portrays the author’s torturous experience during the Khmer Rouge through the eyes of a five year old girl. Before the Khmer Rouge, Loung was a young, cheerful kid living in a middle classed family. Her mother was of Chinese descent and her Cambodian father was an official of the Lon Nol government. When the Khmer Rouge took over in the year 1975, her family tried to hide their prestigious background, lying that they were simply peasants doing odd jobs in Phnom Penh to survive through the Khmer Rouge. They lived together, but decided to separately afterwards to lessen the danger of having all of the family members get killed. Life was hard, especially for a 5 or 6 year old girl like Loung. Members of her family members died one by one. This atrocious experience changed her into an independent, yet violent and revenge-seeking individual who wants the Khmer Rouge to payback for the lives of the family members she had lost and the hardship/struggles she had to overcome.


          This book was truly inspiring to read. The novel was very detailed and it also seemed realistic considering that it is a memoir from a 5-year-old’s perspective. The author did a splendid job in luring her readers to become a part of her story. I truly felt as if I was there with her, going through the same experiences and feeling the same emotions when I was reading the book. I believe that Loung have suffered through such a dark and painful experience that a 5 year old wouldn’t want to go through. The violent being that she became during the Khmer Rouge was a result of the harsh experience she had to tolerate and the distressing thoughts she had to keep to herself that shows how war can change a society and an individual’s way of thinking.