Never Fall Down

NeverFallDown

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick (2012)

You show you care, you die.
You show you fear, you die.
You show nothing, maybe you live.

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. (Publisher’s website)

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  1. I found it a little hard to get into this book in the very beginning because of the way it is written in almost broken english. I see why the author did this, and I got used to it and it did make the story that much more believable. ( Students have said the same thing about Blood Red Road or After the Snow). Students who are interested in reading about the Holocaust might find this book interesting as well. It is shocking how the people of Cambodia were treated as recently as the 1970s.

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