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Never Fall Down
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Never Fall Down
A Novel
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This National Book Award nominee from two-time finalist Patricia McCormick is the unforgettable story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor...
This National Book Award nominee from two-time finalist Patricia McCormick is the unforgettable story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor...
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  • This National Book Award nominee from two-time finalist Patricia McCormick is the unforgettable story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor camps of the Khmer Rouge.

    Based on the true story of Cambodian advocate Arn Chorn-Pond, and authentically told from his point of view as a young boy, this is an achingly raw and powerful historical novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace. It includes an author's note and acknowledgments from Arn Chorn-Pond himself.

    When soldiers arrive in his hometown, Arn is just a normal little boy. 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 dying before his eyes. 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.

    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, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier.

    Supports the Common Core State Standards.

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Patricia McCormick is a former journalist and a two-time National Book Award finalist whose books include Cut, Sold, Never Fall Down, The Plot to Kill Hitler, Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero, and the young readers edition of I Am Malala. Patricia lives in New York. You can visit her online at www.pattymccormick.com.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 26, 2012
    McCormick (Purple Heart) again tackles a horrifying subject with grace while unsentimentally portraying the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and Cambodia’s killing fields. Not unlike Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water, this novel is based on a real person, Arn Chorn Pond, who was 11 years old at the time of the country’s Communist revolution. Arn’s narration balances a palpable and constant sense of fear, starvation, and humiliation with his will to survive. Doing so involves great moral compromises, bravery, and a capacity for love and friendship despite the nightmarish circumstances. McCormick divides the narrative into five periods: life before the revolution; in the camps, where Arn learns to play the music (which is used to disguise the noise of regular executions); his induction into the Khmer Rouge; his time in a refugee camp; and, finally, his transition to America. On how to survive, Arn observes, “You show you care, you die. You show fear, you die. You show nothing, maybe you live.” While never shying from the ugliness and brutality of this genocide, McCormick crafts a powerful tribute to the human spirit. Ages 14–up.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2012

    Gr 8 Up-With unflinching candor, an authentic voice, and an indomitable will to survive, Cambodian human-rights activist Arn Chorn Pond narrates the remarkable story of his survival during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror and genocide. McCormick has blended his personal recollections with extensive interviews, historical research, and her own imagination to create a powerful, intimate novel. In 1975, 11-year-old Arn lives an impoverished but inventive life with his aunt and siblings. His father has died and his mother can no longer run the family-owned opera house. After the Khmer Rouge soldiers arrive in his town, everyone is ordered to agricultural labor camps. Separated from his family, Arn witnesses the brutality and sadism of the "black pajama" soldiers, the exhaustion and starvation of his companions, and the horrific Killing Fields massacres. When the soldiers ask for musicians, Arn volunteers. Although he has never played, his natural talent quickly emerges and he becomes a popular khim player, ensuring his survival. With the 1979 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, the Khmer soldiers abandon his camp and he flees with thousands across the border into Thailand. Rescued by peace activist Peter L. Pond, Arn and other orphans come to America where Arn eventually channels his traumatic past into helping other refugees and preserving traditional Cambodian arts and music. Once again, McCormick has delivered a heartrending expose of human tragedy. The natural syntax and grammar of Arn's narration imbues his story with a stunning simplicity and clarity against a backdrop of political chaos, terror, and death. This compelling story will awaken compassion and activism in secondary readers.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, Durham, NC

    Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    "While never shying from the ugliness and brutality of this genocide, McCormick crafts a powerful tribute to the human spirit."

  • Booklist (starred review)

    "Powerfully, hauntingly unforgettable."

  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

    "This compelling chronicle deserves to be widely read, discussed, and reflected upon by a generation of young people who may be largely unaware of this dark chapter in world history."

  • New York Times Book Review

    "A gripping account of the inner turmoil of a child soldier."

  • The Horn Book

    "McCormick's novel is one that needs to be read."

  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    "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."

  • Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)

    "Following the pattern of excellence McCormick began with her novel SOLD, she has created another amazing story through skilled and patient research."

  • Loung Ung, bestelling author of First They Killed My Father, and Lucky Child

    "Arn Chorn Pond is a fast-talking dynamo with endless energy and zest for life. In Never Fall Down, Patricia McCormick captures brilliantly the man, his heart, and his passion to make Cambodia and our world a better place for all. Arn's against-all-odds survival story and McCormick's crisp prose gripped me from the first page to the very end."

  • Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    Praise for PURPLE HEART: "In this suspenseful psychological thriller...McCormick raises moral questions without judgment and will have readers examining not only this conflict but the nature of heroism and war."

  • Kirkus Reviews

    Praise for PURPLE HEART: "McCormick builds the plot subtly and carefully with rich, spare prose."

  • ALA Booklist

    Praise for PURPLE HEART: "Gripping details of existence in a war zone bring this to life."

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A Novel
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