Two Teaspoons of Rice: A Memoir of a Cambodian Orphan



Book: Two Teaspoons of Rice: A Memoir of a Cambodian Orphan

Author: Sida Kong Lei with Monica Boothe

Publisher: Bowker, 2020

ISBN-13: 978-1734852806

ISBN-10: 1734852801

Related website(s): (publisher)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 10 and up

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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Lei, Sida Kong, with Boothe, MonicaTwo Teaspoons of Rice: A Memoir of a Cambodian Orphan (Published in 2020 by Bowker).  It is 1975, and Sida Kong is a ten-year-old girl living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with her family of nine, made up of her father, a jeweler, mother, older brother Chun, older sister Hong, younger brothers Kann and Chao, and younger sisters Thy and baby Peou.  The Kongs enjoy a pleasant, middle-class life until Pol Pot and his Communist Khmer Rouge take over, driving them out of the city and into forced labor camps.  Along the way, Sida’s mother and young Chao die.  Then her father and Chun are taken away and never heard from again.  So Sida eventually determines to keep her remaining chain of five together and lead them to freedom in neighboring Thailand.  What will happen to them?  Do they survive their ordeal?  And if so, can they make it to safety?

From 1975 to 1979, Pol Pot, the leader of the Khmer Rouge killed one to two million of his own people in “The Killing Fields” of Cambodia. This heart rending but inspiring true story tells what a ten year old girl lived through for four long starvation filled years, showing the incredible strength, courage, and love that enabled her to prevail over unimaginable evil and horror.  It is filled with pain and despair as well as kindness and faith.  The author’s love of family shines through every page.  Above all, she has a sense of hope.  The Kong family was Buddhist, but Sida’s mother, before she died, told Sida to “pray to God,” and she did.  This well told tales introduces the reader not only to life in war-torn Cambodia but also to Sida’s intelligence and bravery.   It would be a great book for home schoolers learning world history or even just as an inspiring book for English class.

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