Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Disappeared by: Kim Echlin


A love story set against the background of the Cambodian killing fields, Echlin’s novel is a Romeo and Juliet for our time. Sixteen-year-old Anne, raised by her widowed father, attends a proper young ladies’ school in Montreal. But Anne has a secret – she sneaks into blues clubs with her tutor, and one night, she meets Serey, a sexy Cambodian musician who plays the songs of his people as well as blues and rock.

Serey was in Canada when the Cambodian government fell, and his father begged him not to come home. The sheltered girl and the accidental refugee fall passionately in love; between them “everything was animal sensation and music.” They play the role of a gorgeous, exotic couple until the borders reopen, and Serey’s yearning for home and his family pulls him away.

Eleven years later, Anne flies to Phnom Penh to search for Serey in the chaos left by war and famine, following in the footsteps of the biblical heroine Ruth, who declared, “Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.” Her love is undaunted by the obstacles she faces – from a merciless government to a people so desperate and downtrodden they’ll do anything to survive.


This book was just a random pick I made. I saw it on the shelves, liked the description and gorgeous cover, and bought it.

In a way, I'm glad I did. The book wasn't a huge epic tale, the messages and points of the novel were given subtly at times and bold at times. Set in a war-torn country, it's definitely got a gruesome and sorrowful backdrop. The words the author uses paint a clear picture in the reader's heads.

The characters weren't as developed as I think they could have been. I wanted more. I wanted the boundary to be pushed and a line to be crossed. In some parts, they just didn't feel real to me.

But the writing was beautiful. It was poetic and flowed very well. Some of it was breathtaking, some horrifying.

The conclusion wasn't as strong as I think it could've been. I know what she was going for, and I think it could've been persented a little better. It was still touching, though.

All in all, this is a book to be read by those who enjoy novels that are meant to show the terrors and horrible things that happen in countries like Cambodia. The writing alone is enough to keep the novel standing on its own two feet, but the backdrop gives it a little extra something.

Overall rating: 7/10

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