Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Arn is a young teen who loves life in Cambodia with his sisters and brother until one day, the Khmer Rouge march into their village and change his life forever. In Arn's broken language, McCormick bases this work of fiction on the four and a half years Arn suffered as he witnesses the murder of friends and family. Toiling all day long in rice fields with young boys, boys were starved, murdered, and when marched to the mango field "everyone knew they would die" and everyone meant babies, men, women and children. Arn survives by learning how to play a musical instruments and sing songs glorifying the Khmer Rouge. Arn did what he had to do in order to survive---by never falling down. Arn is a survivor but he suffers deeply as he witnesses the horrors and then becomes a child soldier. McCormick's book is sooo difficult to read, but you can't put it down. The killing fields of Cambodia run with blood but Arn survives to tell his story to the world and he becomes a humanitarian who continues to spend most of his time helping Cambodia rebuild through music and other community outlets.
I loved this book and hope it will be read by all teens just as The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray tell the world