Tag Archives: wwii

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (unabridged audiobook read by Michael Maloney; 5 hrs on 4 discs): Usually I like to have a sentence or two of synopsis to start off with, but the only thing I knew going into this was that it had something to do with the Holocaust. And honestly I think that was probably the best way. Bruno captured my heart, and frankly the end was a little traumatizing. While I can’t say that I necessarily liked this story, it was incredibly moving and a very important story. Definitely one to read by all, and a very good way to open the door to a conversation with children about the Holocaust. Definitely something that will stick with me for a long time.

A note on the audio: Maloney was quite good, being funny or sensitive as the situation required. This particular version also had a brief conversation between Boyne and his publisher, which was interesting but not strictly necessary. That is, I liked hearing about the book’s reception but I didn’t feel it added anything to my overall experience.

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen: Hannah opens the apartment door to symbolically let in Elijah during a particularly boring Passover celebration with her family and suddenly finds herself in 1940s Poland just as all the Jews in the village are being rounded up to be taken to a concentration camp. I’ve read about the Holocaust on a number of occasions, but every new account reveals new horrors. Though this particular story is fiction, a lot of the details were straight from survivors. For a young adult novel, this is a pretty detailed description of life in the camps without being excessively graphic, and as expected, it’s something that will stay with me for a very long time.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: I can see why this story resonates with so many BookCrossers: it’s all about people connecting through books. The setting is England, 1946, and everyone is still recovering from World War II. Journalist Juliet Ashton receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a man living on Guernsey Island who purchased a secondhand book with her address inside the front cover. He writes her to ask for the addresses of bookshops he could contact to get more books by Charles Lamb. Thus Juliet is introduced to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a group formed during the German occupation of the Channel Islands. I feel a little silly for not knowing about the occupation, though WWII was never covered in any depth in my schooling.

I am so in love with this book. It’s told as a more realistic epistolary than most, in that people actually write the way most people write letters, as opposed to sharing novels with verbatim dialogue and fancy descriptive passages. Even so, the characters are unique, believable, and very memorable. I laughed out loud; I got choked up; I worried; I cheered. In other words, I was completely sucked in to the story. I didn’t want it to end. Highly recommended.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry: It’s interesting how many novels about the Nazis are written from the point of view of a child. This is no exception: Annemarie is a 10-year-old girl living in 1943 Copenhagen, which Germany invaded years before. Her best friend Ellen is a Jew, and one day her parents flee to avoid “relocation.” Annemarie’s parents take in Ellen and have her pose as their daughter. There’s quite a bit of tension every time the Nazis show up; I doubt I could have been that calm in the face of such danger at that age. Don’t skip the afterword, which explains what parts of the book were based in fact; a surprising amount of details and twists turn out not to be just clever literary devices. It’s a good glimpse of history, and unlike most books written about this time period, I didn’t cry even once. Which was a nice change.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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