Monday, November 4, 2013

Great Reads: The Rent Collector

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright is an excellent read and I absolutely loved it! If you like stories of courage and hope, you should definitely read The Rent Collector.

Wright's story is based on fact. The setting is Cambodia, in the garbage dump known as Stung Meanchey. Yes, there are people, approximately 600 families to be exact, who LIVE IN THE DUMP. They make their living scavenging through others' refuse for anything of value, and they actually have to pay rent to live there. It's unbelievable, yet perfectly true.

The Rent Collector is the story of Sang Ly and her husband, Ki Lim, and their infant son, Nisay, who live in a shack at Stung Meanchey. Sang Ly, Ki Lim and Nisay are real people, and they are shown in the video above. They struggle each month to raise enough money to feed themselves and pay the rent collector on time. On top of that, Nisay is unwell and has been since birth. Sang Ly is matter-of-fact about why she thinks Nisay is not well, saying "We do live in a dump." But her biggest desire is to find a way for Nisay to be healed.

Sang Ly is a hero in my book. She manages to find the humor in life and this humor is interspersed through the book. She also has very thought-provoking ideas. A clock in their home that doesn't even work is still correct "two times a day," and Sang Ly keeps it because one day she hopes to have it repaired. One of my favorite quotes from the book is this: "Sometimes broken things deserve to be repaired."

One day Sang Ly discovers that the rent collector, an unlikeable old woman who seems to like no one, can read! This is a rare thing in the dump. Sang Ly manages to convince the rent collector, Sopeap Sin, to teach her to read in hopes of finding a better life for Nisay. An unlikely friendship develops and some amazing secrets are revealed about Sopeap Sin that change both of their lives.

The Rent Collector reminds the reader that hope springs eternal, great stories change lives and that you can never judge a book, or a person, by its cover. 

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