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Review: The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

Title: The Rent Collector
Author: Camron Wright
Year Published: 2012

Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 264
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)Cambodia

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 working.

Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the ill-tempered woman they call "the rent collector" who comes each month demanding money--a secret that dates back tot he Khmer Rouge and sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past.

Review: I was afraid this book was going to be too much like the non-fiction Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, which I read recently. That followed a family who lived in a trash dump in Bombay, India and had a rent collector character as well. I needn't have worried.

This book is based on a documentary made by the author's son so the characters are real, the places are real, and the circumstances / experiences are real(istic). The storyline, however, is fiction. Having photos of the real place and people at the end of the book made this novel even more powerful.

This book pulls the reader in from the start as we get to know the main characters and their quest to survive life in the city dump. The Rent Collector is cruel and and demanding, until we learn her story, which pours out over much of the book. Cambodia's Khmer Rouge history is intertwined near the end, which for me was an excellent addition as it is a history that I find fascinating. I have been to Cambodia so could picture the places featured in this book and that really added to my enjoyment and understanding of the story.

The relationship between Sang Ly and the Rent Collector is very well done and powerful. I highly recommend this book.

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