A Life of Close Calls
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Published in: July-August 2022 issue.


MA AND ME:  A Memoir
by Putsata Reang
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 400 pages, $28.


JOURNALIST Putsata Reang has written a compelling memoir that offers a glimpse into a world that’s not often encountered in LGBT literature. In 1975, when she was not quite a year old, Putsata Reang and her extended family were refugees, fleeing Cambodia after it fell to the Khmer Rouge. They were at sea for almost a month on an overcrowded boat, suffering from hunger and exposure. Literally minutes from death’s door, she was saved by her mother’s dedication and the American medical staff at Subic Bay in the Philippines, where the boat was finally allowed to dock. About six months later, the family found itself settled in Corvallis, Oregon, thanks to Protestant church groups that had arranged for housing and jobs.

            From her earliest years, Putsata Reang felt that she was different from her sisters, preferring to wear boys’ clothes and play with her brother’s toys. She had crushes on other girls and endured homophobic slurs. She also had a chaotic home life.

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Martha E. Stone is the literary editor of this magazine.