ANNE FRANK AND ME

In this example of history- and literature-lite, teens are given a rather heavy-handed lesson about the evils of the Holocaust. Nicole Burns is a typical 16-year-old who undergoes a life-changing experience after a riot breaks out at the local museum where her class has gone to see an "Anne Frank in the World" exhibit. Nicole is knocked unconscious and wakes up to find herself in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942, now part of a Jewish family and therefore subject to the increasingly Draconian laws against Jews. While in hiding, Nicole and her family are betrayed by a close friend and Nicole ends up on one of the cattle cars traveling east to the concentration camps. On the crowded train, she meets someone who seems eerily familiar, a girl whom she soon recognizes as Anne Frank. Memories stir in Nicole and details about Anne's final years—details that she remembers from her 21st-century life—rush into her mind. Nicole ends up in the gas chamber where, on the point of death, she finds herself back in 21st-century America soon becoming convinced that her experiences were real. What Nicole can remember from one era to another is often confusing and inconsistent. Sometimes French Nicole remembers the future, as when Anne Frank makes her appearance, but other times she seems not to know what the outcome of the Holocaust (and therefore her probable fate) will be. Although admirable in its intent to make the Holocaust relevant to today's adolescents, the story is overly obvious, pounding the reader over the head with its message. It is difficult to imagine this on stage (its roots are in the theater) because the dialogue is so trite and forced. But there may be an audience for it among reluctant teen readers who can relate to these airheads. For a much better time-travel novel involving the Holocaust, stick with Jane Yolen’s The Devil's Arithmetic. (timeline) (Fiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23329-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

GETTING NEAR TO BABY

Couloumbis’s debut carries a family through early stages of grief with grace, sensitivity, and a healthy dose of laughter. In the wake of Baby’s sudden death, the three Deans remaining put up no resistance when Aunt Patty swoops in to take away 12-year-old Willa Jo and suddenly, stubbornly mute JoAnn, called “Little Sister,” in the misguided belief that their mother needs time alone. Well-meaning but far too accustomed to getting her way, Aunt Patty buys the children unwanted new clothes, enrolls them in a Bible day camp for one disastrous day, and even tries to line up friends for them. While politely tolerating her hovering, the two inseparable sisters find their own path, hooking up with a fearless, wonderfully plainspoken teenaged neighbor and her dirt-loving brothers, then, acting on an obscure but ultimately healing impulse, climbing out onto the roof to get a bit closer to Heaven, and Baby. Willa Jo tells the tale in a nonlinear, back-and-forth fashion that not only prepares readers emotionally for her heartrending account of Baby’s death, but also artfully illuminates each character’s depths and foibles; the loving relationship between Patty and her wiser husband Hob is just as complex and clearly drawn as that of Willa Jo and Little Sister. Lightening the tone by poking gentle fun at Patty and some of her small-town neighbors, the author creates a cast founded on likable, real-seeming people who grow and change in response to tragedy. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23389-X

Page Count: 211

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

BEYOND PARADISE

During WWII in the Philippines, American citizens trapped in the war zone were imprisoned for years by the Japanese, events that provide the context for Hertenstein’s first novel, which focuses on one 14-year-old, Louise. Louise’s minister father is captured in Manila, leaving her and her weak-willed mother to face life alone with other Baptist missionaries on an outlying island. The colony escapes into the hills for a time, but is discovered and interned in a concentration camp. Eventually they are moved to Manila, and later to the notorious camp, Los Banos. One of Louise’s friends is discovered with a radio and executed; food is scarce; people are dying. Hertenstein writes with sensitivity, although the story is often disjointed, e.g., the news that the colony has been taken prisoner comes in a letter Louise writes to her sister, instead of through Louise’s natural-sounding first-person narration, which filled the first 60 pages. When the Japanese disappear from the camp, Louise, now almost 18, rejoices that finally there will be “No bowing, no bayonets,” yet bowing and bayonets, major features of Japanese concentration camps, have hardly been mentioned. A first work that is shakily compelling, often uplifting, and certainly promising. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16381-5

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more