Reviewed as a 'book to change readers' eyes and hearts' by Kirkus Reviews, Linda Crew's Children of the River will certainly bring a tear to your eye and pull at your heartstrings.  This book captures the genocide in Cambodia by telling the story of Sundara, who was fortunate enough to escape early on to America, although not without experiencing a horrendous journey.  She left behind her parents and siblings and through Sundara the reader experiences her endless wait for news of them, good or bad.  The book tackles the challenges refugees face when arriving in a new country without family without a job, without speaking the language, giving the book a contemporary feel even though the genocide at the centre of the book took place almost 40 years ago.

Discussion questions

Please note that some of these questions may contain plot spoilers.

1)    How does Sundara embrace her new-found appreciation for America, while at the same time maintaining her Cambodian heritage?

2)    What different challenges do Sundara and her cousins have to deal with, compared to the older generation, Sundara’s aunt and uncle?

3)    Why does Jonathan’s dad change his mind about going to Cambodia?

4)    Both Moni and Sundara have to come to terms with bad news about the boy they love. How does the news differ and is one easier to deal with than the other?

5)    The author Linda Crew deliberately leaves the ending of the book fairly open.  What do you want to happen next between Sundara and Jonathan?  And what do you think actually happens between them?