It's a novel based on the true story of a teen-age boy who lived through the genocide of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970's.
Patricia McCormick is one of the best "Young Adult" writers around. She bring a sharp intelligence to her books, along with polished writing and believable characters. This book is no exception.
McCormick spent a lot of time with Arn Chorn-Pond, the protagonist. She also tracked down other people who figured into the story and interviewed them. She drew so much detail from her interviews that you feel you are there in the jungle with Arn.
I usually hate dialect, but McCormick pulls it off here in a way that adds to the story. She uses a few of Arn's English variations -- enough to give him a voice, but not so much that it is distracting.
Warning: This book is intense. There is a lot of violence, a lot of starving and death. Personally, I think all world leaders should read it before they start wars.