Saturday 18 December 2021

Book Review: Ma and Me - A Memoir by Putsata Reang (Non-Fiction)

Title: Ma and Me: A Memoir
Author: Putsata Reang
Publisher: MCD
Publication Date: 17 May 2022
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Non-Fiction - Memoir
Source: ARC via NetGalley

When Putsata Reang was eleven months old, her family fled war-torn Cambodia, spending twenty-three days on an overcrowded navy vessel before finding sanctuary at an American naval base in the Philippines. Holding what appeared to be a lifeless baby in her arms, Ma resisted the captain's orders to throw her bundle overboard. Instead, on landing, Ma rushed her baby into the arms of American military nurses and doctors, who saved the child's life. "I had hope, just a little, you were still alive," Ma would tell Put in an oft-repeated story that became family legend.

Over the years, Put lived to please Ma and make her proud, hustling to repay her life debt by becoming the consummate good Cambodian daughter, working steadfastly by Ma's side in the berry fields each summer and eventually building a successful career as an award-winning journalist. But Put's adoration and efforts are no match for Ma's expectations. When she comes out to Ma in her twenties, it's just a phase. When she fails to bring home a Khmer boyfriend, it's because she's not trying hard enough. When, at the age of forty, Put tells Ma she is finally getting married--to a woman--it breaks their bond in two.

In her startling memoir, Reang explores the long legacy of inherited trauma and the crushing weight of cultural and filial duty. With rare clarity and lyric wisdom,
Ma and Me is a stunning, deeply moving memoir about love, debt, and duty.


I am not generally a big reader of memoirs or biographies of living people; however, I was drawn to this book because of an Around the World reading challenge I am in the middle of, since it would allow me to cross Cambodia off my list. Overall, I found Ma and Me an interesting read. My knowledge of Cambodia was minimal, so I was fascinated to learn more about the country's people, history and culture. I also got caught up in the tale of Put's relationship with her mother. The prose was easy reading yet drew you in, and I liked the style in which the story was presented. I finished the book interested to learn more about Cambodia, and I recommend it to readers interested in Asian culture and history and those who enjoy tales of family relationships and overcoming difficulties.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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