Never Fall Down

Never Fall Down

A Boy Soldier's Story of Survival

Book - 2012
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"Cambodian child soldier Arn Chorn-Pond defied the odds and used all of his courage and wits to survive the murderous regime of the Khmer Rouge"--
Publisher: New York :, Balzer + Bray,, 2012.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780061730931
Branch Call Number: Y FIC MCCO
Characteristics: 216 pages ; 22 cm.


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One of the most powerful and bravest book ever. It is such a remarkable story. It spoke the truth.

Franchesca (Teen Volunteer)

Jan 17, 2017

This is an absolutely amazing story. I had heard of the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields, but did not know much about it. Arn Chorn-Pond's story of his experience (from age 11 to 15!) is heartbreaking, eye opening, and ultimately inspiring. Despite being so young when he is taken away from his family and all the horrifying things he experiences and witnesses, he keeps on going. It seems like his affection for his friends, no matter how long he's known them, is a big part of his reason to keep trying to survive. Although he doesn't state that explicitly, I can't think of any other reason why he would have tracked down almost every person mentioned in this book. His story is told in a very straightforward way like he is just talking to you which makes it easy to read and understand what happened from his point of view as a child/ young adolescent. His determination to survive and adapt to his circumstances is remarkable. I have found myself remembering and repeating in my head one line from his story, I think when he was alone in the jungle towards the end: just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Jun 18, 2016

One of my most favorite books of all time.

teddypawz Jan 09, 2015

A very touching true story of a young Cambodian boy who survived the horrible genocide in the 1970s.

Sep 02, 2014

In Never Fall Down, Patricia McCormick tells the real life story of Arn Chorn-Pond, a child survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide that took place in Cambodia during the 1970’s. Taking his words and turning them into a work of fiction is an amazing feat, and the reader is awarded with a informative and harrowing account of one young boy’s struggle to stay alive during years of horror and uncertainty. One of the first things Arn learned was to never fall down as when one did, the chances that that person would be able or would be allowed to get back up were very slim.

Cdnbookworm Jul 12, 2013

This is a novel, but it is based on a real life story. Based on the real boy Arn Chorn, this story is set in Cambodia from 1975 through 1979, with some follow-up to Arn following his move to the United States. Arn is eleven as the story begins. He has four sisters (3 older, 1 younger) and a younger brother. His parents were singers and ran an opera house and company until the illness and death of his father. At that point, his mother left the children with their aunt as she went elsewhere in the country for work. Arn helps the family out by selling whatever he can find on the street, gambling, and dancing for tourists. His family can't afford school for him. When the Khmer Rouge revolution starts, everyone is forced to leave the city, leaving most of their belongings aside. Much of what they do take is lost during the many days march to labour camps. Arn is separated from his family at this point, but remembers his aunt's words to "Do whatever they say. Be like the grass. Bend low, bend low, then bend lower. The wind blow one way, you bow that way. It blow the other way, you do, too. That is the way to survive".
At first Arn works in the rice fields, but later he is made to become a musician and his skill here helps him to survive. As the country nears liberation, Arn is forced to become a soldier. His experiences of loss, violence and inhumanity are difficult to read about let alone experience, and Arn has a lot of mental anguish from his experience. Following his freedom and his adoption into an American family, he learns to deal with his past, and becomes a man of peace.
This book is based on many interviews with Arn and other survivors that he knew as well as historical research on the Cambodian tragedy.
I found it interesting to compare it with the novel In the Shadow of the Banyan, also based on a child's experiences surviving the Killing Fields of Cambodia. The children came from different classes, but had much similar experiences, both losing most of the their family members and being separated from those they loved as they struggled to survive.

Dec 04, 2012

This book is a riveting account of a child's horrific experiences during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the mid to late 70s. All the more disturbing to find out this is basically a true story with the author just filling in gaps in Arn Chorn's memory that make it fictional. Arn is an incredible person who is still suffering from his experiences but helping others as he helps himself. This is definitely a cross-over YA book that will appeal to adults and may be too intense for sensitive teens. Follow it up by viewing the film The Flute Player and see Arn and others from the story as he travels to Cambodia for one of his projects: reviving traditional music.


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Nov 12, 2016

4nti3 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

May 05, 2014

blue_baboon_987 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 7 and 12


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Jun 18, 2016

“Back at the hut, all my sister, they start to cry. "No crying," my aunt says, very strict. "You cry only in your mind."

But later, when everyone else asleep, I hear my aunt, her tears, they fall like rain.”


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