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Never Fall Down Hardcover – May 8, 2012

203 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“While never shying from the ugliness and brutality of this genocide, McCormick crafts a powerful tribute to the human spirit.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Powerfully, hauntingly unforgettable.” (Booklist (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.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review))

“A gripping account of the inner turmoil of a child soldier.” (New York Times Book Review)

“McCormick’s novel is one that needs to be read.” (The Horn Book)

“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.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

“Following the pattern of excellence McCormick began with her novel SOLD, she has created another amazing story through skilled and patient research.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review))

“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.” (Loung Ung, bestelling author of First They Killed My Father, and Lucky Child)

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.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

Praise for PURPLE HEART: “McCormick builds the plot subtly and carefully with rich, spare prose.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Praise for PURPLE HEART: “Gripping details of existence in a war zone bring this to life.” (ALA Booklist)

From the Back Cover

When soldiers arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid, dancing to rock 'n' roll, hustling for spare change, and selling ice cream with his brother. 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, weak from hunger, malaria, or sheer exhaustion, dying before his eyes. He sees prisoners marched to a nearby mango grove, never to return. And he learns to be invisible to the sadistic Khmer Rouge, who can give or take away life on a whim.

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. In order to survive, he must quickly master the strange revolutionary songs the soldiers demand—and steal food to keep the other kids alive. 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 from the Khmer Rouge, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier. He lives by the simple credo: Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down.

Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is an achingly raw and powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace, from National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061730939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061730931
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patricia McCormick is a two-time National Book Award Finalist whose books include "Cut," "SOLD," "Never Fall Down," and the young readers edition of "I am Malala." SOLD, based on McCormick's research in the brothels of India, has been made into a feature film due out in fall 2014.

Her debut novel, "Cut" is a sensitive portrayal of one girl's struggle with self-injury; it has sold nearly a million copies. "SOLD," a searing novel written in vignettes, and "Never Fall Down," based on the true story of a boy who survived the Killing Fields of Cambodia, were National Book Award finalists. Her other books, "My Brother's Keeper", and "Purple Heart" have received numerous awards.

She worked recently with Malala Yousafzai, on the young readers' edition of "I am Malala," the story of the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for standing up for her right to an education.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Evie Seo TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Never Fall Down was one absolutely devastating read. I was not prepared for its searing authenticity and intensely emotional message; it took me by surprise, broke my heart to pieces and left me drained and breathless, but also very satisfied and enriched. Reading this book was an experience like no other. Profoundly harrowing and cathartic, Never Fall Down tells a true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, a child soldier in Cambodia who later became famous for his advocacy of peace and civil rights. With her raw and painfully realistic prose, Patricia McCormick weaves a gripping tale of death, abuse, starvation, terror, and brainwashing. A poignant story of survival against all odds and keeping one's humanity. This is a book with a beating heart, and one that everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - should read.

Arn Chorn-Pond was born into a family of performing musicians that owned and ran a famous opera in Cambodia. When the Khmer Rouge (a ruthless organization that was following the Communist Party of Kampuchea) came to power, Chorn-Pond (and hundreds other children) was separated from his family and sent away to a work camp, where all the kids were forced to work in rice fields from sunrise to late night hours. Starved, terrified and growing weaker with every passing day, Chorn-Pond witnessed people dying all around him: from exhaustion and starvation, from sickness (like malaria), or simply being executed by the Khmer Rouge "Camrades" (for having too pale a skin, or too soft hands, or for not working hard enough). He had to learn how to bottle up his emotions, how to make himself numb and desensitized to all the death and horrors around him. He had to adapt and find a way to survive. Later on, Chorn-Pond and a group of other boys were chosen to play propaganda songs for the camp soldiers.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By CeceBee on May 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I read this book straight through. Although I knew the story, the telling is magnificent. McCormick captures a pure and wrenching voice. I hope It will take a place with the Diary of Anne Frank and Catcher in the Rye on school reading lists.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Susan J Josenhans on June 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a difficult book to read, not because it is written in "broken English" style, but because it details the horrific treatment of the Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge: the mistreatment of children, separation of families, torture, enslavement, starvation, and murder. It is also a story of love and kindness. Never Fall Down is easy reading in a "broken English" style, which is odd at first but the reader can adapt to that quickly enough.

Don't steer away from this book because it is troubling to read. It's an important record of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge.

(I think Never Fall Down might be a little too disturbing for some young, sensitive teenagers because of graphic descriptions of murder and suffering.)
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Susan by the Mekong on May 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing story about a real life hero who overcomes the excruciating trauma of being a child soldier during the Khmer Rouge regime to become an award-winning human rights activist and a leader in rebuilding his nation's culture. The story is, by turns, painful, disturbing, but ultimately full of hope and love. Patricia McCormack has told Arn's early life in a manner that gives voice to an innocent and good child who is caught up in events that are virtually unimaginable. Definitely read this book. You will be touched and inspired. And, knowing Arn, you can be sure he will do more good things with the residuals. So, you get 2 for 1: a great read and you contribute to improving the lives of Cambodia's children. :)
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Silentninja on May 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My family is from cambodia and my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles went through this very thing mentioned in this book. The khmer rouge. Described to me in the most horrific detail from my father. now that i have found- and read- this book i have been inspired to take on a pacifist way. PLease just read the book.

Aw koon chaan(thank you)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ikram on May 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I went to college with Arn and although I knew he had a rough life, I had no idea it was this heart wrenching! Back in college, he was always the life of any event he was in and made everyone feel good. I can see now where he got that drive from. I have a few more Cambodian friends and they all said they have gone through the same horrific experience. I cannot believe that humans can do this kind of horrible things to other humans and what makes this even more terrible is that the Khmer did this to their own people! But the books gives off a huge dose of hope as well. Seen through the eyes of Arn, anyone who ever thought they had/have a rough childhood because they didn't get the latest video game or the latest whatever it is a kid wants these days, should read this book. I am certainly going to offer this up to my nieces and nephews!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Melody Mociulski on May 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Never Fall Down is riveting, emotional, and inspirational. Written in Arn's voice as a child of war, the reader experiences the horror and cold reality of the Khmer Rouge through his eyes. I am blessed to have met Arn in Cambodia, working with his organization Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development. Yet, I didn't know the extent of his story and loss. Arn lives for his people every day. He life is a testament to hope and perseverance. This is a must read!
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