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Book Review of The Rent Collector for Young Readers by Camron Wright
The Rent Collector is one of my all-time favorite stories. I am so glad that Camron Wright has adapted it to make it appropriate for younger readers. I hope it inspires these youth as much as it has inspired me! I think The Rent Collector for Young Readers will become a favorite for classroom and family libraries.
Based on true events.
Sang Ly lives at Cambodia’s largest city dump, earning a living for her family by sifting through the trash for recyclables and things which can be repaired and sold. On a good day, she can earn enough to buy food for her family. She needs enough good days to pay the Rent Collector, Sopeap—a grumpy old woman who is willing to evict any tenant who can’t pay their rent on time.
When Sang Ly is unable to pay her rent, she fears her family will have to leave their shanty home—a place where her only possessions can be carried in two hands. But when Sopeap sees a discarded children’s book lying on Sang Ly’s cardboard bed, her mood changes. Sang Ly offers her the book if she can keep her family at the dump.
An unlikely friendship develops between the two women, and Sang Ly learns that Sopeap knows how to read—something Sang Ly has always wanted to learn. Being able to read could transform Sang Ly’s world beyond the edges of the dump and lead to a future with possibilities and hope.
But the Rent Collector has a secret and a tragic past, one that will not be easy for Sang Ly to navigate. With the support of her family, Sang Ly embarks on a life-changing journey for a better life and future.
The Rent Collector is about the power of literacy, the influence of the past, and finding hope, resiliency, and empowerment in the face of seemingly endless hardship.
My Book Review:
Wow! That about sums it up. Wow. This story is amazing. I was hooked from the first paragraph and could not put it down. I laughed, cried, got angry, felt so blessed, and fell in love with these characters. Sang Ly may live in a dump, but she is an inspiration to me and those around her. Teachers across the world would give anything for more students like her. Her journey and her drive to learn are simply incredible.
Sang Ly’s attitude about life at the dump is realistic. Some days she hates it, and some days she feels blessed to be there. I can’t even imagine. The love she has for Nisay and Ki Lim brought me to tears several times. I know that love. I feel it in myself. Ki Lim is also an inspiration. The love he has for his family also brought me to tears. When he ran around the city looking for Sang Ly and Nisay at all the different hospitals it made me cry. He sticks by Sang Ly, even through all her crazy investigative work and dreams, and supports her always, even though sometimes he may want to roll his eyes and walk away.
Sopeap Sin is an amazingly complex woman. She evokes many different emotions in this book. At times I hated her and her gruff ways, and other times her kindness and selflessness humbled me. Thinking of Lucky, a mere child, living by himself at the dump, made me sick to my stomach. How sad. The mother in me just wanted to bring him home with me and take care of him.
As you can tell, the characters in this book are so well done. They became my friends, my neighbors, and an inspiration to me. If they can have a positive attitude and a grateful heart while living in a tiny shack in a dump, then I should never have reason to complain. I live in a beautiful home in a beautiful area, I have a fabulous husband and four incredible children. We have doctors and grocery stores, hospitals and pharmacies nearby. I have food to eat and to give to my family. We have jobs to provide for our family. We have wonderful families and great neighbors. I am truly blessed.
I think this story is amazing. It is a novel, but to find out that Sang Ly, Ki Lim, and Nisay, are all real people brought tears to my eyes. I know there is a lot made up, but to know it is based on these real people somehow made it all the better. The writing draws you in and holds you captive, and the lessons this book teaches are priceless. It teaches the reader that we are all alike, no matter where we live and no matter our socioeconomic status. We all have hopes, dreams, and want the best life for our families. I also love the lessons about the importance of reading and stories in our lives.
I loved this book and highly recommend it!
Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There is some gang violence and at least one character dies.)
Age Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th) and up
My Rating: 4.5/5
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.