Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Stones Cry Out: A Cambodian Childhood, 19751980, Molyda Szymusiak presents an account of her childhood in Cambodia after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge ousted Lon Nol and Prince Sihinouk. The book is divided into six sections, with multiple chapters and an epilogue. The book opens on April 15, 1975, and concludes in 1980, with the author’s arrival in Paris.

Szymusiak begins the book with the fall of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, describing her family’s flight from Phnom Penh to the countryside. Initially, her family believed that they would soon return to their home. It soon became clear to them, however, that this would not be the case. Rather, they were frequently forced to move to other parts of the country. In addition, they were often given conflicting instructions about their future by those who were in charge. Family units were often split up, and all but the smallest children were sent to work away from the rest of the family. For example, Szymusiak and other young girls were sent from their families to harvest grass and build roads. These actions were taken so that communist indoctrination could take place and the family unit would become a thing of the past.

In later chapters, the reader is given an often gruesome account of the author’s experiences. Szymusiak and her family and friends were treated horribly by the Khmer Rouge. All the people in this new society were expected to work, even the youngest...

(The entire section is 468 words.)