The Rent Collector

The Rent Collector

4.6 26
by Camron Wright
     
 

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Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not really working. Just when things seem most bleak,

Overview


Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not really working. Just when things seem most bleak, Sang Ly learns a secret about the hated, ill-tempered woman, the "the rent collector"-she can read!  Reluctantly she agrees to teach Sang Ly and does so with the same harshness she applied to her collection duties until they both learn how literacy has the power to instill hope and transcend circumstance.

Based on a true story, set in the abject poverty of Cambodia against the backdrop of political oppression and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The written word offers hope for a brighter future in Wright's fact-based new novel (after Letters for Emily). Sang Ly lives with her husband, Ki, and their habitually ill son, Nisay, in Cambodia's biggest municipal dump—Stung Meanchey. There, residents pick through the mountains of garbage in order to salvage resalable bits of flotsam, but Sang Ly is desperate to escape and secure a better life for her ailing son. The titular rent collector—"an abrupt, bitter, angry woman" named Sopeap Sin, but whom everyone calls "Cow—" turns out to be the gracious means by which Sang Ly's dreams might be realized. Hoping to educate Nisay, Sang Ly asks Sopeap Sin to teach her how to read, and as their pedagogical relationship deepens, so too does Sang Ly's understanding of literature expand and enrich her experience of life. But when Nisay's illness worsens and Sopeap Sin disappears, Sang Ly is wrenched from the niceties of composed narratives, and must set out on her own to save her son and uncover the truth behind her mentor's mysterious departure and elusive past. The miseries of the dump—prostitution, sickness, and gangs among them—are interwoven throughout the story, but rather than highlight the reasons behind Sang Ly's desire to leave, the peripheral chaos overwhelms and dilutes the core plot. Like Stung Meanchey, Wright's book sometimes shimmers, but there's a lot to sift through to get to the goods. (Sept.)
ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Gold Award

ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Gold Award
Great Southwest Book Festival Honorable Mention

Great Southwest Book Festival Honorable Mention
Utah Book Award Finalist

Utah Book Award Finalist 2014
Whitney Awards Best General Fiction Novel

Whitney Awards Best General Fiction Novel 2012
Nominated for the International Impac Dublin Literacy Award

Nominated for the International Impac Dublin Literacy Award
Booklist

"Working as “pickers,” Sang Ly and her husband, Ki Lim, earn their living by sifting through the trash at Stung Meanchey, Cambodia’s large city dump…An unlikely friendship blossoms between the two women, and Sang Ly learns that the Rent Collector’s gruff exterior hides unspeakable personal tragedies and a life shattered by the Khmer Rouge. Undergirding Sang Ly’s literary journey is the support and care of the Stung Meanchey community, illustrating how beauty can be found in even the ugliest of places. Drawn from the real lives of the residents of Stung Meanchey, this is a beautifully told story about the perseverance of the human spirit and the importance of standing up for what is right. This inspirational multicultural story will strike a chord with teen readers."—Booklist
 
From the Publisher

"The written word offers hope for a brighter future in Wright's fact-based new novel. Wright's book…shimmers."—Publishers Weekly

"A beautifully told story about the perseverance of the human spirit and the importance of standing up for what is right."—Booklist

"Through Sang Ly and the rent collector, readers will discover a wealth of insights: the lingering ravages of war, the common bonds of humanity, and the uplifting power of literature."—School Library Journal

“An amazing piece of literature, a must read for every book club!” — Sean Covey, New York Times bestselling author

Sean Covey

 “An amazing piece of literature, a must read for every book club!”
Wendy Ulrich

“Compelling, insightful, and engaging.” —Wendy Ulrich, New York Times bestselling author

A. Todd Smith

“Stunning! A passionately poignant work.” 

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609077051
Publisher:
Shadow Mountain Publishing
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
9,924
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
16 Years

Read an Excerpt

The steady rumble of uninvited trucks tries to pry into the safety of my dream, a dream in which I am still a child prancing along the trail toward the rice fields where my family works in the Prey Veng province of Cambodia’s countryside. It is a cheerful morning as I pull at my grandfather’s bony fingers, tugging him along while he struggles to keep up. . . .

He bends close, squints his eyes at mine, and peeks into my thoughts as though he were the village fortune-teller. I find it unnerving and so I glance down at my bare and dirty toes. He won’t allow it. With a touch from his calloused finger to my chin he raises my gaze. He speaks assuredly, but still with enough grandfatherly giggle trailing in his voice to make certain my little-girl ears pay attention to every smiling syllable.

“Life will not always be so hard or cruel. Our difficulties are but a moment.”

I stare back, trying to make sense of his words, for my life is neither hard nor cruel. I am still too young to recognize that we are poor—that in spite of the grandeur of the province and the hours my family toils each day, we don’t own the land on which we work. I haven’t yet grasped that earning enough money to buy food on the very day we eat it isn’t an adventure embraced by the world.

The rumble grows louder, and Grandfather rocks forward on his toes.

“Remember, Sang Ly. When you find your purpose—and you will find your purpose—never let go. Peace is a product of both patience and persistence.”

How can a child pretend to make sense of such a puzzling phrase?

“Sang Ly,” he repeats, as if he finds eminent joy in the sound of my name, “it starts today. Today is going to be a very lucky day.”

What People are saying about this

Jenny Lyons
"A rich and rewarding tale of hope!" Jenny Lyons, The King's English Bookshop
Sean Covey
"An amazing piece of literature, a must read for every book club!" Sean Covey, New York Times bestselling author
A. Todd Smith
"Stunning! A passionately poignant work." A. Todd Smith, Emmy-winning director
Wendy Ulrich
"...Compelling, insightful, and engaging." Wendy Ulrich, New York Times bestselling author

Meet the Author


Camron Wright is the author of the international bestseller Letters for Emily. It was a Reader's Choice award winner, as well as a selection of the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild. He holds a master's degree in writing and public relations. Camron lives with his wife, Alicyn, in Utah. They are the parents of four children.

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The Rent Collector 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
SincerelyStacie More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I figured it would be depressing and I couldn't imagine how a story of people living in the dump was going to be much of a story to tell. Well, I was completely wrong. The story is told from Sang Ly's perspective and she is quite the storyteller. She is quite witty and had me laughing in the first chapter. She is thoughtful, intelligent, and has a will to improve her life. Sang Ly is a wife, but most importantly a mother. She thinks and feels like any mother in the world, with her focus on her son being healthy. Isn't that what every mother in the world wants? No matter whether you live in a dump in Cambodia or a mansion in California, all a mother wants is for her child to be happy and healthy. For Sang Ly, it was her sole purpose. Sang Ly devises a plan for a better life and that dream involves her asking for help from someone she least expects to ask for help. The way of life for the people living at the dump and the descriptions of their homes and belongings were shocking to me. The little things that were appreciated, their meager food portions, the constant struggle to survive were heartbreaking....and even more so knowing this truly is happening every day in Cambodia and other places around the world. This story will remind you that possessions are just things and what truly matters in life is happiness, love, family, friends and your health. Sang Ly and her husband Ki remind us that we make our own happiness, not by the things we have, but by spending time with those we love. This story is based on truth and is told about real people. By going to the book's website, you will learn even more about the story of those who live at the dump. I found the photos on the website and at the back of the book, fascinating and wonder how the people in the story are doing now. This story is eye-opening, intellectual, heartbreaking, and inspirational. It makes for an excellent book club discussion and questions are available on the book website.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Rent Collector is a book that will help you to see your own life and circumstances more clearly. It is written so powerfully and so beautifully that you can't help but fall in love with Sang Ly (main character) and her family. I would highly recommend this book! It is captivating, hopeful and definitely inspires me to be a better person. I will recommend it to my book club as well as family and friends! Read it today...you will LOVE it!
JoleeB More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is such a powerful and inspiring story, and I feel like everyone should read it. It is a great book for a book club, as there is a lot to discuss. It is based on the true story of a family who lives in a garbage dump in Cambodia, with a fictional story line brought in also. Words can't describe how great this book is. It is a story of hope and survival. At many times throughout the book, it will have you wondering what you would do and how you would live in the situation. Unbelievable story. So great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the bittersweet fruit Sopeap encounters and the ripening of it's elusive past. This reminds me some fruit with prickles can be especially plentiful and sweet on the inside. A story to remember and possibly read a few more times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book! From the first page to the last, I couldn't put this book down. A very touching and inspirational story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down! Loved it!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
speakeron More than 1 year ago
The Rent Collector is part beautiful fairy tale and part realistic view of poverty. It is a story of finding a beacon of hope for the future, acceptance, gratefulness and the search for the good in others is worthy of the journey. Very respectful of Cambodian culture, ot is a story of the good we can do for ourselves and for others. Our book club found it excellent for discussion and women will appreciate the worth of women across all cultures and the need to expand its acceptance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learned much about Cambodia in this book. The story was very good, and the surprise climax was well-done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would have never purchased this book on sight but my Book Club decided to read. Although much of it takes place in the garbage heaps in Cambodia, it is not depressing. It is a heart warming story of the Rent Collector teaching a poor young woman to read. Although there is other drama in the story it is a good read and holds ones attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this as a book club selection, and was initially disappointed. After some thought, I concluded that it should be read as a fable. Otherwise, it was just too hard to suspend disbelief enough to feel that these were real people, living in a real world. It is a story I would expect to hear in an intentionally "inspiring" setting, and the characters and events were manipulated to achieve that goal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love truly comes from deep within. Compassion is still alive and well....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
book4children More than 1 year ago
Wow. This book completely blew me away. It was gorgeous. It is a story about what it means to be human. It is about literacy and the way it changes lives. Words and stories have power. The Rent Collector explores that theme in depth and gives us (the reader) hope for the future, hope for humanity, hope for our children. I had a difficult time finishing this book because I didn't want it to end. I would read a chapter, then get lost in thought until one of my kids or my husband would ask me what I was doing. I recommend this book to everyone. It is one of those stories that needs to be read and needs to be shared. It is educational and eye-opening. It will steal your heart, stomp on it, then stick it back in your chest, beating stronger than ever. Content: Some disturbing scenes (war crimes, etc). Clean otherwise.
chairup More than 1 year ago
Fiction story of a true event. Unbelievable that people live that way. The "Rent Collector" turns out that she has an amazing story herself, but is fearful to share considering the circumstances of the times in Cambodia. Truly enjoyed the experience of reading this book.
quibecca More than 1 year ago
I don't even know where to start.  Honestly.  This book is FABULOUS....I mean absolutely fabulous.  I didn't even want to start.  I didn't want to even start reading because I was thinking it was going to be a sad book.  It was...in a way.  I don't know if I got from it what every one else has gotten from it, but this book made me feel good.  I don't even know how to put it in words.  It just is such a touching story.   There are just so many great lessons in this book, but most of all for me was, don't judge.  You never know where a person comes from, or what they have gone through.  This book made this absolutely clear. I don't want to say much because if you haven't read this book, you should really think about it.  Really.  I love a feel good story.  It was so sad, and so sweet, and so great, all at the same time.  Sang Ly is such a wonderful person on so many levels.  She lives in a dump, and though she hates it, she does all she can to make things better for herself and her family.  The Rent Collector seems like such a hard, and bitter woman, but it is obvious there is more to her than meet the eyes. I have decided that since reading my eyes have started leaking a lot more than I am use to.  I use to get touched by book, but not like I have been lately.  Since I have started reading on such a large level it seems with every book the words come more and more to life for me.  It's amazing.  Camron Wright is an absolutely amazing author.  A MAY ZING!   If you need a book about hope, and redemption this is such a great book for both.  I am in awe of this book.  It made me cry like a little girl at the end.  This book deserves more than 5 stars!!!!!  It's clean, wonderful, and touching!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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KimballSK More than 1 year ago
It wasn't the title - it wasn't the author...it was the cover, that drew me to "The Rent Collector," by Camron Wright. I was quickly pulled into this beautifully written story, about Sang Ly's determination to give her very ill son Nisay, a healthy place to live. Her way out would be learning to read. I loved the unexpected hero in Sopeap Sin, the rent collector - an angry drunken woman, I loved to hate...until I understood Sopeap Sin's struggle with her own demons. I choose this book because I loved the cover...and ended up on an incredible journey of a family's struggle to survive in a treacherous dump in Cambodia... So, thank you Camron Wright - your story moved my heart...your story took me to a place I never knew I wanted to go... Without hesitation, I say, this must-read story, is filled with deep meaning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would not have choosen this book on my own, but it came highly recommended by a friend. I was not disappointed! A well written book that has many levels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I picked this book up, I didn't expect too much. I would now say that it is one of my all time favorite books. As others said in their reviews, it is a powerful & inspiring story. But it also makes you think count your own blessings!