Ma and Me: Book summary and reviews of Ma and Me by Putsata Reang

Ma and Me

A Memoir

by Putsata Reang

Ma and Me by Putsata Reang X
Ma and Me by Putsata Reang
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Book Summary

When Putsata Reang was eleven months old, her family fled war-torn Cambodia, spending twenty-three days on an overcrowded navy vessel before finding sanctuary at an American naval base in the Philippines. Holding what appeared to be a lifeless baby in her arms, Ma resisted the captain's orders to throw her bundle overboard. Instead, on landing, Ma rushed her baby into the arms of American military nurses and doctors, who saved the child's life.

"I had hope, just a little, you were still alive," Ma would tell Put in an oft-repeated story that became family legend.

Over the years, Put lived to please Ma and make her proud, hustling to repay her life debt by becoming the consummate good Cambodian daughter, working steadfastly by Ma's side in the berry fields each summer and eventually building a successful career as an award-winning journalist. But Put's adoration and efforts are no match for Ma's expectations. When she comes out to Ma in her twenties, it's just a phase. When she fails to bring home a Khmer boyfriend, it's because she's not trying hard enough. When, at the age of forty, Put tells Ma she is finally getting married―to a woman―it breaks their bond in two.

In her startling memoir, Reang explores the long legacy of inherited trauma and the crushing weight of cultural and filial duty. With rare clarity and lyric wisdom, Ma and Me is a stunning, deeply moving memoir about love, debt, and duty.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Familial ties and the scars of war are exquisitely examined in this luminous debut...In wringing compassion from her complicated legacy, Reang offers a nuanced mediation on love, identity, and belonging. This story of survival radiates with resilience and hope." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[E]loquent...Well-wrought vignettes of a complicated mother-daughter bond." - Kirkus Reviews

"Ma and Me is an important new entry in the growing body of American refugee and immigrant literature, shining a fearless light on the experiences of queer people whose families have survived the trauma of war. It also stands apart as a work of lyrical beauty, exploring culture, duty, guilt and family with heartbreaking clarity." - BookPage

"Heartfelt and evocative." - Ms. Magazine

"This beautiful story of struggling to reconcile love, family, and identity with generational trauma belongs on every queer immigrant's shelf. For those of us who know how it is to always fall between two worlds, Ma and Me is not heartbreaking but heart-healing." - Nicola Griffith, author of So Lucky

"A book as close to perfect as any I have read in many years. Lyrical, emotional, and profoundly moving, Ma and Me is in equal parts a love story between a mother and her daughter, and a family's tale of survival, war, and the inherited traumas. I read Ma and Me in two days, and that is only because I forced myself to slow down to savor Putsata Reang's sharp, poetic prose." - Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father

This information about Ma and Me was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Putsata Reang

Putsata Reang is an author and a journalist whose writings have appeared in the New York Times, Politico, the Guardian, Ms., and the Seattle Times, among other publications. Born in Cambodia and raised in rural Oregon, Reang has lived and worked in more than a dozen countries, including Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Thailand. She is an alum of residencies at Hedgebrook, Kimmel Harding Nelson, and Mineral School, and she has received fellowships from the Alicia Patterson Foundation and Jack Straw Writers Program. She teaches memoir writing at the University of Washington's School of Professional & Continuing Education.

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