After reading this book, you will never want to! Success is often defined by adversity and perseverance. It is not given but rather earned.

From experiencing poverty, hunger, child abuse, rape and sex slavery in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to obtaining an education, finding love, becoming an American citizen and creating a successful business in Beverly Hills.

 ”Life Between Two Worlds” will take you on a journey that will inspire you to overcome any challenge and become the person you were meant to be. 



Everyone has faced the problem of wanting to give up, especially during times of hardship. I will show you how to overcome this problem by staying persistent and keeping love in your heart.

Growing up fatherless in poverty-stricken Cambodia, as a child I was responsible for gathering my food. During adolescence, my life wasn’t any easier, and I suffered through physical and emotional abuse from my mother, the woman I loved, and looked up to the most. 

After that, I experienced the horror of being raped, and when I thought I’d overcome that nightmare, my boss then sold me as part of the sex slave trade.

By believing everything I dreamed of was possible, I learned English, made it to America, attained my education, fell in love, and started a successful business in Beverly Hills, California. 

After reading ”Life Between Two Worlds”, I promise you will be able to defeat adversity and conquer your goals.

You will then take the word impossible, and remove it from your vocabulary, replacing it with the words,

 “I can, I will, and I did.” 

Don’t wait, or the thought of giving up may very well defeat you. 

Equip yourself now with the inspiration found in these pages, so you can persevere. 

My life story provides many lessons including; the importance of being appreciative, why you should never waste what you can share, the power of forgiveness, and how to turn tragedy into triumph. 



onika Tep is the founder and owner of Monika Day Spa located in Beverly Hills, California. 

A former international print model, she has appeared in publications such as ”Les Hommes” as well as Cambodian Magazine, where she was selected as one of the “Women We Love of the Year.” 

Monika has always been fascinated with the beauty industry, getting her start in Phnom Penh as a young girl, and continuing to expand her knowledge while working for the prestigious ”Sunset Tower Hotel” in West Hollywood. Formal education was also essential to her, earning certifications in areas such as :

  • Principles of LED Light Therapy
  • Microcurrent
  • Advanced Aesthetic Treatments
  • Mechanical Lymphatic Drainage

One of Monika’s passions is giving back to the community, and during the year she often prepares home cooked meals, personally delivering them to people living on the street.

She loves to cook and is exploring the idea of opening her own restaurant called ”Monika la Cuisine” in which she is currently developing the menu.

”It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light” 


The day I was honored to become a citizen of the United States of America.

Justin was on left & Michael was on the right.


Chapter 1

My Hero

Chapter 2

Tough Transition 

Chapter 3


Chapter 4

Someone Please Help 

Chapter 5


Chapter 6

Breaking Point 

Chapter 7


Chapter 8

Return to Phnom Penh 

Chapter 9


Chapter 10


Chapter 11

Shattered Glass

Chapter 12


Chapter 13

The Power of Forgiveness

Chapter 14

Kite in the Wind

Chapter 15

A Man Named Michael 

Chapter 16

My journey to America

Chapter 17

Way to Go

Chapter 18

Never Meant to Be 

Chapter 19


Chapter 20

Falling in Love

Chapter 21

Let’s Celebrate 

Chapter 22

Proud American 

Chapter 23

Dreams Come True 


It was the summer of 1988, and the sounds of gunfire pierced through the ears of all the villagers in Longvek, while screams of people dying polluted the air with sadness.
My mother, two months away from giving birth to me, describes this time all too vividly as it was when the war took my father’s life.
The memory of my father has inspired me to fight through any obstacle, never giving up along the way. A few years before my older sister Maya was born, the Cambodian government initiated a military draft of all non-disabled men. 
The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces were fighting various rebel groups from Vietnam, hiding in the jungle, and waging guerrilla warfare throughout the country.
Consequently, the Cambodian army needed all the men they could muster, and my father was an attractive recruit.
He was well educated, and spoke both Cambodian and French, making him an asset they would not pass up.
After the genocide in 1975, finding individuals with either higher education or who spoke more than one language was a rare and prized occurrence indeed.
Since father was both well educated and bilingual, his achievements became curses.
When government officials came to our house and explained how important my father’s educational background and linguistic skills were, my grandparents, begged them to reconsider recruiting him for military service.
“He has a wife and a young child,” my grandfather shouted. “Please, you cannot take him from his family!”



A touching story of struggle and survival. Having grown up in Canada it’s really hard to imagine the life people in less fortunate countries all over the world are born into. This young woman is an inspiration to everyone who struggles. I truly enjoyed the book and would recommend it for anyone who wants to understand the life and cultural challenges faced by south east asians who come to America because they cannot find safety in their homelands.

Peter A.

 I would recommend this book to everyone.

Monica , you are one of the most inspiring persons that I’ve ever known. I doubt that anyone can get through what you got through. This book has touched my heart. I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to learn about immigration, people who are struggling in the their life and who want to become successful people. I am so proud of you! Thanks for sharing your own story.

Lina Howe

I came across this book when I actually ran into Monika Tep in Los Angeles. I don’t usually read biographies unless it was a particular important figure in modern history. But I read Monika’s book and thought it was impressive. It had you wanting to read on, and kept the reader wondering what is going to happen next. Monika Tep’s real life story embedded in “Life Between Two Worlds” is an astonishing story about how a Cambodian young girl who had a horrific life without her father, made it to America and succeeded with her driven ambition. I recommend this book highly to people thinking they have it worst in life than anyone else. There is always going to be someone worse off than you, and the Monika Tep biography with its roller coaster ride in “Life Between Two Worlds” gives everyone hope and a chance to succeed no matter what the odds!
Dr. Alan Snow (Seattle, WA)


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