This posting is my acknowledgement of the suffering and perseverance of the survivors and victims of the Holocaust.
Over the years I have read many different stories about the Holocaust. When I heard that Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys was written about masses of people deported from their homeland in eastern Europe to Siberia, I had to read it. I was amazed at all the brutality and suffering these Lithuanian people endured at the hands of the Soviet guards. One morning, to keep the family togther, Lina’s mother traded a watch for her brother. That morning a human life was worth a pocket watch. As the family suffered through the winter of hardships in Siberia, I kept thinking that there was no way they could survive, and that they did survive is breathtaking. This is Lina and Jacob’s coming of age story, and is based on actual events that happened to Ruta’s parents and grandparents. To read Lindsey’s full review of the book, click here.
I next picked up Sharon Dogar’s Annexed, a fictional story of the time spent in the Annex with the Frank family. Peter Van Pels and his parents lived in hiding in Holland for two years and one month. This is Peter’s coming of age story, and he tells about life in the attic from his perspective. He too has quite a story to tell. He mentally wrestles with feelings of hatred and love for Anne Frank. He also wishes he could be part of the armies that were fighting against Hitler to protect his homeland.
In Once by Morris Gleitzman, a ten-year-old boy is living in a Catholic orphanage, placed there for safety by his Jewish parents before they fled from Poland and Hitler. Each chapter starts with “Once I” and goes on to tell that short story. The first one starts, “Once I was living in an orphanage in the mountains and I shouldn’t have been and I almost caused a riot.” Convinced he can find his parents, he runs away from the orphanage and travels across Nazi-occupied Poland looking for them. He uses his stories to get himself out of many difficult situations. This is an amazing story, and I am waiting to read the next installment, Then, due out this month.
Ashes, a Newbery Honor title by Kathryn Lasky, is a pre-World War II look at Germany. In this story we meet thirteen-year-old Gabriella Schramm living in Berlin in 1932. She attends a very good school, has several good friends, and life is good. In the summers her family goes to a very nice beach house, where their next-door neighbor is Albert Einstein. As Hitler rises to power, Gabriella’s life starts to change as her family is forced to reconsider where their political loyalties lie.
My last Holocaust read is The Dog in the Wood by Monika Schroder. This story takes place the end of April 1945 in eastern Germany. Ten-year-old Fritz lives on his grandparent’s farm with them and his mother and older sister. As the Soviets advance across the border into Germany, Fritz, his mother, and his sister find themselves alone to face the soldiers. They are given little time to pack what belongings they can place on the wagon and leave. They are now among the refugees forced from their land by new Soviet laws. This story is also based on the author’s family history in Germany.
These were all very good reads, all based on real events that took place during the horrors of the Holocaust.
Annexed by Sharon Dogar. 2010.
Ashes by Kathryn Lasky. 2010.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. 2011.
The Dog in the Wood by Monika Schroder. 2009.
Once by Morris Gleitzman. 2010.
Guestblogger: Kathy V