About the Book: My friend Jasmine recommended Patricia McCormick’s Never Fall Down to me and, after reading its synopsis, I was intrigued enough to purchase it. The novel shares the real-life account of Cambodian Arn Chorn-Pond’s escape from the Khmer Rouge and it is one of the most “I-cannot-believe-this-actually-happened” true life stories I’ve ever read. Nearly two million people—one quarter of Cambodia’s population—died during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the late ’60s-early ’70s. So many time as I was reading this, I thought to myself, “And where was THIS story in my history book?” I was shocked and embarrassed to know so little about what happened there in the Killing Fields. Arn’s story (as told to writer Patricia McCormick) traces his separation from his family, to his life surviving death camp (a decision to voluntarily play music for the soldiers saves his life), to the trials of his life in America as a refugee (where he continues to this day to speak about his life under the Khmer Rouge). It’s a haunting journey, one readers of this book won’t soon forget.
Passages I Want to Remember: “In just one day a person can get use to seeing dead body.” // “I see some kids die in the field. They just fall down. Maybe it’s malaria. Or maybe they starve. They fall down, they never get up. Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down.” // “To live with nothing in your stomach and a gun in your face,” he says, “is that living or is that dying a little bit every day?”
Would I Recommend? Absolutely. This isn’t light-hearted reading material (I teared up at a few scenes), but it’s compelling and Arn’s story is a powerful reminder to be grateful for the lives of freedom we Americans were born into. I haven’t read a biography this compelling since Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken.