by Patricia McCormick
Arn had always been the one with the plan in his family. Always scheming to find a way to make a little money so he could buy treats for his siblings, or a little extra food for the family. But when the Khmer Rouge comes to Cambodia, Arn's skills turn out to be what saves his life. Whether it is staying out of trouble with the guards at the kids camp he is sent to, or learning to play a musical instrument and sing for the military higher ups, or learning to shoot a gun and kill to save himself, he finds a way to survive. But what is the cost of his survival? How do you live with yourself when everyone you love is dead, when you have committed terrible acts to live?
Never Fall Down is a story of how one boy survives the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. The book is based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond. His recollections of the war are mixed with what McCormick imagines happened to create an incredibly compelling and gruesome story. The book is incredibly frank in it's telling of the thousands of killings that happened in Cambodia at the time. Arn is almost completely disconnected emotionally from his telling of watching people murdered in front of him or doing the killing himself. It is a brutal reminder of the atrocities of war from the point of view of a child who should never have had to have witnessed it, not to mention participate in. The book is a great book for teens, but due to the violence is really best for older teens or those who are a bit more mature.
Genre: War Fiction
Age Level: 10-11th Grade