Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf

In 1942, eleven-year-old Milada is taken from her home in Lidice, Czechoslovakia, along with other blond, blue-eyed children to a Lebensborn center in Poland. There she is trained to be a “proper German” for adoption by a German family, and all the while she struggles to remember her true identity.

eva

An older book, but an important story and one that shouldn’t be missed. I’ve read other historical fiction books detailing the holocaust, but this book stands out. It was interesting to read about Milada (later renamed Eva) being chosen to attend a special school because of her Aryan looks (blonde hair, blue eyes).

Although the book does offer a glimpse into the horrors of the Holocaust, I think the author did a fantastic job at writing the story for the intended audience of middle graders. The content was handled sensitively yet does not shy away from some more disturbing aspects; like when Eva wonders what the horrible smell is, and is told by her adoptive sister “Prisoners, well, prisoners die. And there isn’t room to bury them. So the smokestacks—“ (p. 134). Understandably, Eva doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. But if readers want to find out more, historical facts are also included in the author’s note.

This book is recommended to readers with interest in historical fiction. That being said, I would not endorse the cover shown on Goodreads. It does not do a great job at ‘selling’ the book. I think the publisher quickly realized this too, as my edition has a more appealing cover.

Book Review: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

After reading The Giver, I knew I had to have more Lois Lowry. I shamefully must admit that I’ve also never read Number the Stars.  As an interesting side note, this book was the first I’ve ever read on an EReader (I borrowed one from my colleague to test whether I wanted to purchase one).  This amazing story follows Annemarie Johansen, a ten year old girl living in Copenhagen, Demark during the Nazi invasion and her family’s attempt to protect her best friend’s Jewish family.  When the Johansen’s concealed Annemarie’s best friend Ellen as their own daughter, they put themselves at great danger and risk. My heart was pounding when the Nazi’s stormed the Johansen’s house in the middle of the night and began questioning whether Ellen was truly their daughter.  The Johansen’s quick thinking and bravery is so admirable.  Lowry did an amazing job at making the reader feel all the emotions the characters were experiencing.  

 Although Number the Stars is classified as a historical fiction story to introduce children to the Holocaust, almost all of the details were based on true accounts.  Lowry definitely did her research on the resistance and survival when writing this novel.  This book informed me of the lengths the Danes went to protect the Jews. In the author’s notes, readers learn that the Danes helped nearly 7,000 Jews to flee from the Nazis.

Number the Stars truly deserved the 1990 Newberry Medal for the ‘most distinguished contribution to American literature for children’. If I had to sum up the book in three words: touching, powerful, and unforgettable.  A must read for all ages.

                                                                                                                                                                   

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