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.
A very emotional account of the Cambodian Genocide from the eyes of a child. I'm baffled as to what he went through and cannot believe that something like this actually occurred. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Celia
I have visited the killing fields outside Phnom Penh, walking alone on pathways that wound among the large open pits that held thousands of victims of the inhumanly cruel Pol Pot... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Barb M.
Great story about the Cambodian Genocide....if you like historical narratives, I highly recommend this book.Published 8 days ago by JR Utah
Tough read, but glad I stuck with it. Was unaware of that historyPublished 10 days ago by Patti Smiley
Arn Chorn-Pond was eleven when the Khmer Rouge came to his small Cambodian village to round up people. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Nate Shurtleff
This story is so pure and so heartfelt. In the very beginning it was slightly difficult to get used to the choppy English but as you go on it just makes the story more real and you... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jennifer Toomer
Breathtaking human drama brought alive by the author's unique style. If you took a lie detector test and said that you yourself had been there among the Khmer Rouge, you would... Read morePublished 1 month ago by New York State Bar ASsociation
I had some reservations about the distinctive form of English McCormick uses; it brought to mind the dialects used in racist accounts of the old south, the old west, and countless... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rev. Judith Kelsey-Powell
Not an easy read, but only because it's an amazing story that everybody should read! It's in the Young Adult category, I believe, but every grownup in America that cares about... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bruce Clendenning