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Never Fall Down
by Patricia McCormick
PUBL. RECOMMENDED AGE: 14 and up
LEXILE READING LEVEL: 710L {what is this?}
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2012
NO. PAGES: 224
GENRE{S}: Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction
MAIN CHARACTER GENDER: Male
AWARD{S}:
National Book Award Finalist
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
YALSA Top 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults
ISBN: 0061730939
READ & REVIEWED BY: Shannon - StorySnoop


The Story
Never Fall Down—Book Review

In the 1970's, Arn is just your average boy in Cambodia. He sells ice cream with his brother to get some extra money and loves rock and roll. But then the soldiers come, and his life is forever changed. He is separated from his family and forced to work in a blazing hot rice paddy, witnessing things a twelve-year-old boy should never see. One day, when a soldier asks if he is able to play a musical instrument, Arn says he can, although he cannot. He knows how these men value their sacred revolutionary songs and hopes that playing the men their songs just might save his life. He is correct, but his bit of freedom comes with a horrible price. This is the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, how he survived the Cambodian Killing Fields, and then grew up to be a man of peace.
The Scoop
Never Fall Down—Book Review
{spoiler alert}

Although Never Fall Down reads like fiction, it is a true story as told to the award-winning author Patricia McCormick. McCormick is known for honestly and powerfully shining light on human atrocities with grace. This book is no exception. Told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy who was actually there and living this life, the story is historically accurate and therefore educational. For those that aren't aware of the genocide that occurred in Cambodia, this book is quite the eye-opener. It reads quickly, is compelling, and an absolute page-turner. Teachers will love the excellent writing and this valuable look at a piece of our not-so-distant history. Much discussion could come from reading this book in book clubs and in the classroom. Moral and ethical questions are raised without judgement, and readers can discuss just how far they would go to survive. Language is mild (sh-t). Never Fall Down is about war, and as war is not pretty, neither are parts of this book. Images of war are not sugar-coated, and there are some heart-wrenching scenes. Arn sees children murdered violently with all kinds of weapons, including axes. Both males and females are sexually abused, though it is not described. In a particularly disturbing scene, a small child is eating off the carcass of a human, and then is taken away and killed. The brutality is horrific, but ultimately, this book is about survival--both physically and of the human spirit. Despite the heavy subject matter, it is an inspiring read. Arn not only survives, but goes on to do great things with his life. It is a story, ultimately, of triumph.
>Book trailer from YouTube:
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