I love to read about different countries and their people, but only if there is an amazing story attached to hide the dense historical data. Thus, meet Arn, a young Cambodian boy who loves music and dancing, ice cream and frogging with his friend. He lives with his aunt and three sisters and brother in a poor part of his village. Everyday was filled with fun and laughter. Until one morning when army soldiers from the Khmer Rouge come and march every single person out to the countryside and into labor camps.
The novel traces Arn's journey from a carefree boy to a soldier of war, and finally to what one could call a return to home again in a span of just a few years.
Patricia McCormick wrote Never Fall Down: a novel (M) with the help of Arn Chorn-Pond himself through extensive interviews. She used Arn's own dialect to further capture the raw emotion of the story. But it is a fictitious piece, as McCormick filled in the story where Arn could not remember or was unable to express in detail.
A word to the wise. Although it is a Young Adult novel, it can be a difficult journey to read, filled with blood, mass murder, and heartbreak, all in gruesome detail. I cried many times throughout this book. I also cried again at the end of the novel - but with tears of relief and happiness.
Some read-a-likes for this novel include:
Beasts of No Nation: a novel (M)
by Uzodinma Iweala
Children No More (M)
by Mark L. Van Name
Love Songs From A Shallow Grave (M)
by Colin Cotterill
Running The Rift: a novel (M)
by Naomi Benaron