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.
Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is an achingly raw and powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace, from National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick.
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"Starred Review. Following the pattern of excellence McCormick began with her novel Sold, she has created another amazing story through skilled and patient research." - VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
"Starred Review. Powerfully, hauntingly unforgettable." - Booklist
"One of the most inspiring and powerful books I've ever read. Never Fall Down can teach us all about finding the courage to speak our truth and change the world." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu
"Starred Review. While never shying from the ugliness and brutality of this genocide, McCormick crafts a powerful tribute to the human spirit. Ages 14up." - Publishers Weekly
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Patricia McCormick is a journalist and writer. She graduated from Rosemont
College in 1978, followed by an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of
Journalism in 1986 and an M.F.A. from New School University in 1999. Her
first novel for teens was Cut, about a young woman's troubles with self-injury. This was followed by My Brother's Keeper in 2005,
about a boy struggling with his brother's addiction, Sold in 2006, and Purple Heart in 2009.
Her awards include the
American Library Association Best Book of the Year,
New York Public Library Best Book for the Teenaged and the
Children's Literature Council's Choice.
She has written for The New York Times, Parents Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Ladies Home Journal, Town & Country, More, Reader's Digest, ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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