Friday, May 19, 2017

The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright

The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright is a fiction based on a true story. Published in 2012, this story follows Sang Ly, her husband, and ill child as they live at and gather recyclables out of a huge garbage dump in Cambodia. Living at the dump has caused their baby to be very sick. They take him to many doctors, but he always goes back to being sick once the medicine is gone.

This story contains several stories as Sang Ly learns to read. I enjoyed all the short stories that Wright incorporated into the story. The story follows the Cinderella story which Wright brings up as one of the most universal tales of all time. Sang Ly even leaves a shoe behind at one point.

The character of Sopeap was one of my favorites along with the character Lucky. Sopeap is a many layered character - neither good nor bad. She is human and her experiences that are revealed throughout the story make her seem so real. This story made me tear up many times, so beware, Alysen. Lucky seems older than his years and is blessed with a positive disposition. I wanted to take him home and raise him in a good environment.

My only complaint was that at times, Sang Ly's voice doesn't seem authentic. However, the overiding message of this book is such a good one. This book makes the reader think about life, poverty, the things we throw away - including humans. I enjoyed the Cambodian history that was relayed throughout the story and how Wright wove all the stories that Sopeap taught Sang Ly into the main story.

I enjoyed the push this book makes about the value of literacy and storytelling. Teachers are important, and the ability to read and write will help end poverty. I loved how a child's picture book opened the door for Sang Ly to have a teacher.

The ending was good, but I was left wondering how the Healer worked. I wanted the science behind his techniques. I also want to watch the documentary that Wright's son produced about the real Sang Ly and her family.

This was our book club choice for May, and everyone enjoyed it.

Read to a child today because you may just change their world for the better. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit.

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