Chou lives in Phnom Penh with her husband, Khuon, their youngest son Sovanh, and their family, including Khuon's brother Meng, Chou's mother and grandmother, and their other children, Hout, Tuch, and Lili. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge topple the government and the family is forcefully evacuated from the city by the revolutionaries. Along the grueling trip, Sovanh and his grandmother become separated from the family, and the Khmer Rouge guards forbid Chou from trying to find them. When they reach the neighboring town, they realize that their Cousin Sok has become one of the revolutionaries and the entire town converted into a commune. The family is stripped of what possessions they cannot hide and worked to the bone with barely any food. Chou asks after her son and is assured he's in a different labor camp but is forbidden to see him. Meng wants to leave, but Khuon insists they have no choice but to be subservient. At Chou's insistence, Khuon tries to cross the river to find Sovanh, but is captured and beaten. Tuch falls ill, and the family gives their last valuables to a woman from the camp, known for sleeping with the Khmer Rouge, to try and find medicine. But Tuch dies before she can return. The woman returns having been unable to find medicine, and is beaten by the other women of the camp. Before dying, she leaves her own son in Chou's care. Sok takes pity on Khuon and allows him to try to find Sovanh, but by the time he arrives, the children have been moved again.