Friday, October 26, 2012

Killing Fields Revisited

It wasn't easy for me to read Never Fall Down, not because of a complicated plot or language, but because of the horrifying and true story it tells. It is the story of Arn Chorn-Pond told in his words by the author Patricia McCormick.  When Arn is ten years old, the Khmer Rouge takes over Cambodia forcing him and his family as well as all the residents of his town, to march to camps in the country. They are separated by gender and age into different camps and work the rice fields for 16 hours a day, with little or no food.  Many children fall ill with malaria and die.  Arn and the others live the constant fear that someone will accuse them of disloyalty to the regime or laziness and they will be killed.  He knows that groups of adults are regularly killed in a mango grove nearby.  It is a living hell.  When he is recruited to play music with others to mask the cries of those being killed, he knows that it will be a way to further his chances of survival.  In a genocidal regime in which 1/3 to  1/2 of the population was killed, Arn survived and escaped after five years of torment.  His natural street smarts, his talent with music, and his inner strength were the keys to his survival from the brutality of a depraved government.  If you have read Night by Elie Wiesel and felt the power of that story, then this will be another story for you to read.

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