Never Fall Down
By Patricial McCormick
Balzar + Bray, 2012. 216 pgs. Young Adult
Arn is a an eleven-year-old boy who just likes to have fun and find ways to earn extra money, when the Khmer Rogue sweeps into his Cambodian town. Taken to work in the rice fields, Arn is separated from his family is surrounded by the constant fear and instability that come with the Khmer Rogue, as any small mistake could be the thing that ultimately leads to being killed. Arn uses his wits to stay alive, learning how to play an instrument and become well-known for his musical skills so that the Khmer Rogue will want to keep him alive. Although he has figured out how to stay alive, when the Khmer Rogue's regime is threatened, Arn is handed a gun and taught to become one of them. Now as a soldier, Arn is in danger not only from the Khmer Rogue, who will still kill anyone on a whim, but also from the enemies of the Khmer Rogue.
McCormick has created a fiction account of the life of Arn Chorn-Pond, taking readers through the horrifying story of a boy who just wants to live, who lives by the credo "Never fall down"--because if you fall down, you'll likely never get back up. Arn's story shows both the horrors of genocide and the strength of the human spirit. With the violence and atrocities of the Khmer Rogue, this story isn't easily stomached, but it is well worth reading.