In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner is a heartrending story of the adversity faced by one young Cambodian girl during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The author, having lived through these same extraordinarily brutal times in Phnom Penh, writes in artful prose a novel that transports readers to a time in the life of the young girl, Raami, who endures more brutality, violence, persecution and despair in 4 years than most people could imagine over a lifetime. While these horrific life experiences are masterfully illustrated by Ratner, the novel pulls from such terrifying realities something that overcomes the evils committed by the Khmer Rouge – the inspiration Raami draws from those who have left indelible, positive prints on her memories. Most importantly, Raami finds perseverance by her recollections of her father’s poetry, a mechanism by which she is able to cope with the atrocities she has witnessed and lived through. Brilliantly crafted, In the Shadow of the Banyan is a must read for those readers interested in learning of the extremely violent times in Cambodia in the 1970s, but with that knowledge and understanding, readers should be forewarned that humanity can be, and was in these times, graphically brutal, making some passages very difficult to read. While In the Shadow of the Banyan was difficult at times, I am deeply grateful for being given the opportunity to read Ratner’s book and believe In the Shadow of the Banyan would make for an excellent, albeit difficult, discussion group pick.