Sunday, July 8, 2012

Just Finished: Never Fall Down

Although labeled as fiction, Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick is based on the life of Arn Chorn-Pond, who survived the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

Arn is just a boy when his town is uprooted by the Khmer Rouge and forced to walk for weeks with nearly no food. So begins a nightmare for Arn (and the entire country) as death and fear become a part of his daily life.

When his family is separated into different camps, Arn has to survive grueling field work and the unpredictable wrath of the soldiers as he watches himself and those around him weaken and starve.

What almost assuredly saves Arn is music. After Arn is chosen to learn a traditional Cambodian instrument, he finds favor with the guards and also a family amongst his fellow band members.

Over the months and years that follow, Arn, in his little boy logic, tries to forget his family and cope with the horrors of war. Arn's voice is powerful and heart wrenching as he questions the things he has to do to stay alive.

McCormick wrote this book for young adults, but she doesn't sidestep the violence Arn faced, including episodes where he is forced to push people into open graves. But I the subject is an important one and shows the deep scars carved into Cambodia. It also shows the depths of both human depravity and resilience.

Today, Arn is trying to help the people of Cambodia heal with the nonprofit Cambodian Living Arts. I wrote a story on it here (if ye be interested). And do pick up a copy of Never Fall Down. Read it with your kids.

1 comment:

Mango Sticky Rice said...

I'll be reading this one at some point for sure. I read <> by Loung Ung in 2008 before finally visiting Cambodia last year. My aunt had Ung as a student in Essex Junction, VT some years ago. I've been fascinated by the country's tragic recent history since college.