Dear Great Book Guru, Last weekend was such fun here in Sea Cliff with all its holiday activities and this coming week looks equally fine. First, there is the St. Boniface Tree Lighting and Caroling on Saturday, Dec. 8 with the added attraction of a horse-drawn carriage taking the carolers around the Village . Then we have the much beloved Hanukkah Happening at the Firehouse on Thursday, Dec. 13. What fun! But let's talk books for a moment….friends have recommended I read a new book about a Cambodian youth who was part of the feared Khmer Rouge. Are you familiar with it and, if so, would you recommend it? Celebrant of the Season
Dear Celebrant, Yes, these are two great events not to be missed and the book you have asked about should not be missed either. NEVER FALL DOWN by Patricia McCormick was a National Book Award finalist this year. It tells the story of Arn Chorn-Pond who is nine-years old when we first meet him. Life is certainly not easy in the Cambodia of 1976, but it quickly turns horrific when the Khmer Rouge takes power and a bloody ethnic cleansing begins. Before it ends, one quarter of the population has been annihilated .Especially hard hit were the educated and literate, including almost all of Arn's family. It is very difficult to read of the traumatic suffering that haunts the boy's days and nights in Cambodia and then cruelly follows him to America where he starts a new life, but one marred by guilt and remorse . The book, while spotlighting humanity's evil instincts, it is also a tale of goodness and redemption as we witness myriad acts of generosity requiring the utmost bravery by so many.