Valleyesque
Two Nights in Lisbon
Books

Ma and Me

9780374720056 fc
Hardcover, MCD × FSG, 2022
Mcd placeholder

Putsata Reang

more about author

"A nuanced mediation on love, identity, and belonging. This story of survival radiates with resilience and hope." Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This openhearted memoir . . . opens the door to include queer descendants of war survivors into the growing American library of love.” —Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show


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.

Read More + Read Less -

  • “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

  • "Familial ties and the scars of war are exquisitely examined in this luminous debut . . . A nuanced mediation on love, identity, and belonging. This story of survival radiates with resilience and hope."

    —Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • “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