Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Rent Collector

by Camron Wright
Rated PG

I've been on the waiting list at the library to read this book, and when my turn came I zipped right through it in a couple of days :)

This novel is loosely based on a real family in Cambodia, who make their living, and their home, in the dump, scavenging for metal and glass that they can exchange for barely more than enough money to feed their family each day. They are one of many families surviving in this manner.

The ornery, unsympathetic rent collector is a woman loathed by all, until one young mother, Sang Ly, finds out by accident that this woman used to be an honored university professor, a fact she has kept secret for all her drunken years collecting rent at the dump. Sang Ly manages to convince the rent collector to teach her to read, hoping that it will lead to a better future for her and her son, and her journey changes everything - and everyone.

I really enjoyed this book. It was equal parts unsettling and gratifying.

Rated PG for some gang violence that goes on in the dump, including a child gang member who is beaten to death, so if you are reading this with your children, watch for that. There is also the rent collector's fondness for alcohol.