Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Intense and eye-opening.
Have you ever read a book that was hard to read? Not because of the long words or complex sentences, but because of what it was about? This was one of those. It's based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, a young boy during the genocide in Cambodia. At the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Arn is forced away from his home, separated from his family, starved, worked almost to death, made a child-soldier and forced to do many other horrific things. This book shows a raw, close-up look at the horrors of the killing fields and of war through the eyes of a young boy-- and those are not easy, light-hearted things--so trust me when I say that this book is intense. And eye opening.
But don't you think that it's good to read hard topics sometimes? I know that I feel incredibly grateful for what I have after reading this. I feel that, even though it was hard for me to even read the terrible things that Arn went through--so hard sometimes I had to put the book down and shake my head for a second before I could continue--I feel that it was a valuable experience for me. I believe that the power of the writing that opens your eyes and makes you hurt and maybe even cry or get angry at the injustice of it all is worth it. In this book that power came from the voice of the main character, which was written to resemble the way a person talks when they're learning English- so some bad grammar and almost no use of plurals--and that was what did the trick. Arn's voice comes in through the writing and makes the experiences have that much more impact on the reader.
While I think that everyone should read eye-opening books every so often, I think that Never Fall Down would be a great one for guy readers. The perspective of Arn makes it more relatable and the subject matter makes it incredibly interesting. The story flow is also quite fast (but not too fast), and so it's easy to get into.
And I love how the theme of Never Fall Down was repeated throughout. You can't help but be incredibly impressed by Arn, his unfailing spirit and generosity.