- In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddney Ratner
It's always hard to say one enjoyed a novel like this since the story is hardly joyous, despite the young narrator's spirit. Still, it was a very good read. I found many interesting characters, from the various members of Raami's family to the good people who find a way to come together in the face of evil. Raami doesn't always really understand what is going on, a state that is probably much more real than is often the case with child narrators given the fact that the author was only a little bit older when she experienced a similar journey. I appreciate that you do see a bit of what draws some of the younger members to the Khmer Rouge regime, even while it is utterly clear to the reader that countless atrocities marked this period. I did sometimes get a bit weary of portions of both the mother and father characters, which is largely responsible for this being four rather than five stars.
Not an easy read, but worthwhile.
- Triburbia by Kari Taro Greenfeld
My copy lacked the map that is in the final print and might have been helpful in keeping things a bit straighter in my head. I wanted to like this much more than I did and it did become a struggle to make myself finish this. I do tend to feel a bit unsatisfied by short stories, but I think that can be overcome in this vignette format. There was some continuity, but these characters and stories didn't do much for me. I can deal with imperfect characters, but it was hard to invest in anyone here....especially with the non-stop infidelity I was interested in the thread about the already-growing hierarchy among the grade-school girls and that was really the only part that kept me going.
I never do like giving anything below three (and think I end up staying there or higher since I do try to pick books that I'll like!), but honesty makes my good reviews more genuine -- Two stars.