Book Review: Never Fall Down, by Patricia McCormick

never_fall_downHave you ever heard of the Khmer Rouge?  Or the infamous Killing Fields?

During the mid ’70s in Cambodia the communist group, Khmer Rouge, were the force behind a terrifying genocide.  Patricia McCormick tells the true story of a young boy’s horrifying experience during this time.

Never Fall Down is a true story that takes you on the shocking and terrible life experience of one boy who lived in Cambodia at this time.  The boy’s name is Arn and he was taken first from his home, then from his family by the Khmer Rouge. Arn was taken to a camp based on his gender and age.  At the camp Arn was forced to work on the rice fields. The lifestyle was very tough. One day, the Khmer Rouge soldiers asked if any of the boys could play an instrument.  Even though Arn has never played anything in his life he volunteers because he knows this will save his life. Later, Arn somehow find himself in the middle of the place we know today as the Killing Fields.  Then Arn is handed a gun and is sent to battle with the other boys still alive. “He lives by the simple credo: ‘Over and over I tell myself one thing: Never fall down.”‘

This story exposed me to a huge event in history that I never knew happened.  I had never heard of the Khmer Rouge or the Killing Fields.  Never Fall Down made me come close to tears. Arn’s struggles are so traumatizing.  It made me wonder what I would do in a situation like his.  It is a very touching story.  This story showed me how scary it is to be a child in the middle of a war.   At times while reading this book I forgot I was reading about history.  Instead I thought I was reading a survival novel.

I personally don’t like to read books on history or war but Never Fall Down is one of my few exceptions.  It takes you on a boy’s journey that starts in a happy home and ends with his search for freedom.  I recommend this to every teen.  It helped me understand the life struggles of the many immigrants that came to America during the ’60s and ’70s.  I advise that you be prepared for many deaths and heartbreaking moments.  I love this book so please go check it out.

-Erika T., 8th grade

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