The Rent Collectorby Camron Wright
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,
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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, 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.
ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Gold Award
Great Southwest Book Festival Honorable Mention
Utah Book Award Finalist 2014
Whitney Awards Best General Fiction Novel 2012
Nominated for the International Impac Dublin Literacy Award
"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
"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
“An amazing piece of literature, a must read for every book club!”
“Compelling, insightful, and engaging.” —Wendy Ulrich, New York Times bestselling author
“Stunning! A passionately poignant work.”
- Shadow Mountain Publishing
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- 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.”
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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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