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Home Is East    by Many Ly order for
Home Is East
by Many Ly
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Amy is Cambodian. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida on the edge of a largely Cambodian neighborhood with her beautiful young mother and old-fashioned, but sweet dad. They are a part of the community whom her dad feels are their family, but her mother does not fit in.

The men and women are waiting for Amy's mother to leave her dad and say so, jokingly, whenever they can. 'Look at you. Your are so old. Sooner or later she'll be bored, and she'll want to have fun. She'll find someone younger and smarter than you, and go,' her dad is told. Amy thinks his friends are cruel. She doesn't understand why her dad just smiles and waits for the conversation to move on to another subject. Why does he allow them to mock him?

When Amy is ten, her mother does leave and she does not take Amy with her. Community members, to whom her dad turns for comfort, are quick to point out that he was told this would happen. Amy sees her dad change. He drinks and smokes now and the community still harasses him. Amy is relieved when he finally breaks with them, and they move to San Diego. He promises her things will be different there. They are, but in many ways they are worse.

Her dad lies to their American neighbors, telling them Amy's mother is dead. Before he can repeat the same lie at the Buddhist Temple, Amy tells everyone there that her mother left them. Her dad is furious. Though the Cambodians in San Diego are warmer, only Amy makes friends. Her dad refuses to meet his new neighbors, anticipating that they will not respect him. He avoids them, drinking more, getting angry easily and threatening Amy. He calls her ill-mannered and rude and reminds her that she is Cambodian, not American. Amy feels like she has lost both father and mother.

Although Amy is Cambodian, what happened to her could happen in any family. Amy continues to count on her mother's love. She finds strength in believing that her mother left her husband, not her daughter. She doesn't know how to make things better, but she never stops trying.

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