Children of the River
by Linda Crew
Children of the River is a heart-warming story of Cambodian refugees living in America. It is a story that teaches the reader about cultural differences and the difficulties of living in a new culture. The story’s main character is a Cambodian girl, Sundara. She 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. Four years later, in America, she is struggling to fit in at her high school while still trying to keep her Aunt’s expectations that she should be "a good Cambodian girl" at home. A good Cambodian girl never dates, so Sundara is told she must wait for her family to arrange her marriage to a Cambodian boy. Despite this, Sundara and an American boy begin to fall in love. The power of love draws them to each other. However, Sundara cannot forget her family that she left behind in Cambodia. It is that grief for her lost family and for the life left behind that makes Sundara want to be with the American boy, Jonathan. The closer she grows to Jonathan, the more she wonders if her hopes for happiness and new life in America are disloyal to her past and her people?
This is a wonderful story for all young people and especially those interested in learning more about the challenges of living in a new culture.