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THE KEY IS LOST by Ida Vos

THE KEY IS LOST

By Ida Vos (Author) , Terese Edelstein (Translator)

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: May 31st, 2000
ISBN: 0-688-16283-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

Although this new Holocaust survivor novel tells much the same story as some of the other books about a family’s trials during WWII, the style is slightly different. It’s told from the point of view of 12-year-old Eva Zilverstijn, and is in the present tense. But it is told about Eva, as though the subject is also the observer. The result is that the narration captures the inner thoughts of the child while remaining somewhat distant. Eva and her sister Lisa, nine years old, were born in Groningen, Holland, the great-great-grandchildren of Polish-Jewish emigrants. Now it’s 1940, the Germans have invaded Holland, and the lives of Jewish residents will never be the same. Eva and Lisa must now think of themselves as Marie-Louise and Marie-Jeanne Dutour, Huguenots. They will spend the next five years in hiding, fleeing from one house to another, never really sure whom to trust. The people who hide them are ordinary citizens who have no special feelings one way or the other about Jews, but will “do whatever it takes to go against those Nazis.” The girls are separated from their parents soon after they begin to hide, and they won’t know what happened to them until the war ends. Living through experiences that would surely destroy them if they did not have a tremendous amount of inner strength, by the end of the war they have proven themselves unusually resourceful as well as brave. On the other hand, they are still children, and find that when they are finally free to go outside, they can’t. Not for a day or two, anyway, since it is still too scary. Outside, and without a star! Two poems included in the book were written by Vos’s mother, and Vos and her sister carried them from one house to another, much as Lisa and Eva do in the story. This is a compelling tale, interestingly told, and will be a useful addition to the growing body of children’s literature about the Holocaust. (Fiction. 10-12)