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review 2013-11-30 00:00
Never Fall Down
Never Fall Down - Patricia McCormick I... I really don't know how to review this. Or rate it. Will need to give it some thought...
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review 2013-07-26 13:04
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
Never Fall Down - Patricia McCormick

This book broke me. And to think that all of this is a true story and actually happened... I have no words.

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review 2013-02-14 00:00
Never Fall Down - Patricia McCormick Won this from Goodreads First Reads!!!!

First time I've won : )
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review 2013-02-06 00:00
Never Fall Down
Never Fall Down -

The usual questions driving personal reviews—did you like this book; what did you like/not like about it; why did or didn't you—must, I feel, be dispensed with in this case. There are two questions I do feel are worth asking:

 

First, is the book worthwhile of its topic?

And the answer of course is yes. To explain the question, however, let me say that I hesitated to begin reading this, confused and not sure exactly how the book would unfold--was it fiction or non-fiction? Why was it written by an American journalist rather than by the person who experienced it? And then, would it feel like another American Journalist Writing About Atrocities In Other Countries story? Etc.

 

But put those concerns aside, if you share them. Told in first person and only a "novel" in the sense that artistic liberties are taken for the sake of forming a coherent narrative from the childhood memories of Arn Chorn-Pond, it is an absorbing story, and makes an important contribution as a book for understanding.

 

P.S. The "Author's Note" is placed at the end of the book but it's worth your time to read it first, to understand both the voice McCormick chose to use, and the blurry line between fact and fiction for this story.

 

Second, is this book really for kids?

Truly, I don't know. Usually the age of the protagonist is a pretty good gauge for the age of the intended reader, and the book begins with Arn at eleven years old, and ends with him at fifteen. Reading it as an adult with complete awareness that everything going on in the book really happened, I had a hard time processing the sheer scale of suffering. And my immediate reaction is to say that kids shouldn't have to go through that. On the other hand, it seems practically unjust to say so, when Arn Chorn-Pond and so many children in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge lived through it as children. But in the end I don't think that kids should be the ones to pay for the cruelty of adults. So: While I would certainly not take it away from a middle-grade reader mature enough to want to read it in the first place, I would recommend recommending it to high school-age and up.

 

What made me pick it up?

It was a much-lauded, starred-review new book last year. I also heard Arn's story on NPR a while back, although I didn't make the connection until after I checked it out from the library.

 

Overall recommendation: Highly recommended

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review 2012-12-18 00:00
Never Fall Down
Never Fall Down - A powerful and unforgettable true story about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The story centers on Arn Chorn-Pond who is an 11 year-old, who is forced to work in labor camps digging ditches and growing rice. Resting for only a few hours a day, Arn’s personality changes quickly and he becomes numb to the world around him as he learns things to survive his new life. While others die around him, Arn becomes emotional detached and he slowly turns into a monster but only becomes he must become one to survive the nightmare he is living. He hopes to be reunited with his family and this hope keeps his spirits up throughout his ordeal. This world he is living later comes know to us as the Killing Fields. The endurance that Arn has is astounding and I have to commend him for not lying down and giving up. I realize he feels guilt for some of his actions but unless someone walks in his shoes, we do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances. The author did an excellent job relaying the feeling and the emotions that went with the characters in the book. The dialect in the book was fun to read and added to the book. Great job all around with this book! I am glad that I have read this book as I have never read anything about these events and I now want to know more."Do whatever they say," she whisper. "Be like the grass. Bend low, bend low, 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."Lots of violence in the book but that is to be expected considering the subject matter. The word sh** was used but not as a swear word and it was appropriate for the book’s subject matter.
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