Until the age of five, Loung Ung and her family led a happy and relatively carefree life in Cambodia's capital Phnom Pen. Ung's father was a high ranking government official and Ing was one of the family's seven children, enjoying the open-air markets in the city, eating fried crickets, watching chickens fight and mildly disobeying her parents. Her mother, who was gentle and beautiful, worried that Loung was a troublemaker, stomping around like a thirsty cow and generally acting in a profoundly un-ladylike way. Her beloved father appreciated Loung's cleverness and was much less inclined to worry about her prospects.
In 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed the city, and the Ung family fled their home, moving from village to village to try to preserve their anonymity and to keep their identity, education and former privilege a secret in order to preserve their safety. For nine people to travel together whilst attempting to keep themselves hidden became impossible and the family dispersed in order to survive.
Loung was exceptionally resilient and determined, qualities that made her the ideal candidate to be trained as a soldier in a work camp for orphans; her other siblings were banished to labor camps.
As the Vietnamese penetrated into Cambodia, fighting with the Khmer Rouge emerged until the brutal army was destroyed. Gradually, Loung and her siblings were reunited, all displaying remarkable bravery, but inspired by the incredible bravery of her brother and comforted by the gentle kindness of her sister, so reminiscent of her mother, Loung forged ever onward and ultimately created for herself a courageous and remarkable new life.