July 26, 2012

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
Published by Harper Collins May 2012
Reviewed from ARC provided by the publisher 
When soldiers arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid, dancing to rock 'n' roll, hustling for spare change, and selling ice cream with his brother. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever. Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children, weak from hunger, malaria, or sheer exhaustion, dying before his eyes. He sees prisoners marched to a nearby mango grove, never to return. And he learns to be invisible to the sadistic Khmer Rouge, who can give or take away life on a whim.
One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn's never played a note in his life, but he volunteers. In order to survive, he must quickly master the strange revolutionary songs the soldiers demand--and steal food to keep the other kids alive. This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated from the Khmer Rouge, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier. He lives by the simple credo: "Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down."
My Thoughts:
“Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down”. -This book is based on the true experiences of Arn Chon-Pond and his experience when the Khmer Rouge came into power. It is tragic, and disturbing. I am embarrassed to say that I had no idea this happened. I was young during this time period but still-while I was reading I kept asking myself –how did I not know about this? Sometimes I feel like I live with blinders on, which is one of many reasons why books like this need to be written, why we need to be reminded of the horror that can happen.  Books like this, like Sold or like The Boy and Striped Pyjamas, leave me shaken and upset but I think that's the point right? It's so easy to get caught up in our "western lives" that we can forget and/or ignore the atrocities that have happened and continue to happen.
What makes his story even more incredible is not just that Arn survived but that he has done incredible things with his life since. He continues to give back to his community and country.
I didn’t give this book a “rating” on GoodReads...how can I possible rate something like this?? Brilliantly written, this book is a reminder of how lucky I am to have the love of family and a roof over my head. A bed to sleep in. A silent night, without screaming or gun shots or fear of losing someone I love. It makes the worries of my day, small and insignificant.
An important read. Destined to be an award winner.

Other titles about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia: 
A Song for Cambodia - by Michelle Lord
First they Killed My Father - by Loung Ung
When Broken Glass Floats - by Chanrithy Him

1 comment:

  1. I've heard a little about Khmer Rouge, but haven't ever read anything about it. This is definitely on my to-read list. Even without having read it, I'm thinking this would be one to use or at least excerpt for the middle school or high school classroom (well, once I have a classroom!). Excellent review. :)

    Randi @ Cardigans, Coffee and Bookmarks