A thrilling, emotional tale of one girl’s experience of the fall of Communism in Romania.

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THE STORY THAT CANNOT BE TOLD

When the enemy is everywhere, it’s impossible to hide.

Readers might not think it’s a great risk to watch a movie. Or write stories. Or publish poems. But in Romania in 1989, these are all crimes punishable by kidnapping, torture, even death. Any act that goes against the Communist Party and its leader is a threat, and spies are everywhere. Ileana’s sense of danger sharpens when she and her parents discover their apartment has been bugged. What might the secret police have heard? Do they know about Ileana’s own habit of writing stories? Ileana is sent to her mother’s estranged parents’ village high in the mountains, for safety. There, she discovers lessons in loyalty, bravery, and friendship that prove essential when she’s faced with her greatest challenge. Historical fiction interwoven with parallel, altered fairy tales, Kramer’s debut novel is rich with connections to today’s world while easily sidestepping the pitfall of heavy-handedness. Ileana is a charming, complex character who stumbles and makes mistakes as she builds up confidence, bravery, and wisdom against a wonderfully imagined backdrop populated with fascinating secondary characters. Her role in battling the Securitate is both inspiring and believable. Characters are pale-skinned Eastern Europeans.

A thrilling, emotional tale of one girl’s experience of the fall of Communism in Romania. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3068-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking.

TEEN KILLERS CLUB

An accused murderer is thrust into an assassin training program.

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere is serving hard time after a hazy night with her former best friend, Rose, which ended with Rose’s body in her lap, an emotional trial, and the media moniker the “Girl from Hell.” After her caseworker, Dave, assures Signal there’s no way she’ll get a successful appeal, he offers her an alternative: being shipped off to a mysterious camp and enrolled in a top-secret government training program unofficially known as the Teen Killers Club. There, Signal and other adolescent Class A felons (the most dangerous kind) undergo various drills—among them, dismembering fake corpses and dissolving flesh in acid—in preparation for eventually being used as assassins against government targets. The teens have been injected with a device remotely controlled by their trainers that will kill them if they attempt to escape the camp or otherwise disobey orders. As Signal nurses an attraction to sensitive tattooed Javier and fights her feelings for handsome sociopath Erik, she begins to piece together what really happened that night with Rose. Sparks crafts a page-turner with a disturbingly unusual premise, snappy dialogue, and characters that go deeper than their heinous crimes. Signal and Erik are assumed White; love interest Javier is cued as Latinx, and there is some diversity in the supporting cast.

A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking. (Thriller. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-229-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A fascinating work of historical fiction that showcases a well-developed, likable protagonist and presents Cline-Ransome at...

FINDING LANGSTON

A Great Migration novella with a vivid, believable protagonist.

When Langston’s mother dies in 1946, his father feels that Alabama has nothing left for him and moves himself and Langston to Chicago, where Negroes could make a living wage and avoid the severe discrimination so prevalent in the South. A sensitive boy who loved his mother deeply, Langston has spent so little time with his father that he doesn’t really know him. When he becomes the target of schoolyard bullies who call him “country boy,” his loneliness sends him to the George Cleveland Hall branch of the Chicago Public Library, where he learns that African-Americans are welcome, which is different from Alabama. A kind librarian helps him find books—including poetry by Langston Hughes, for whom she assumes he has been named. From snooping into letters his dad has saved, he realizes that his mother loved the poetry of Langston Hughes, which inspires him to read everything Hughes has written. Cline-Ransome creates a poignant, bittersweet story of a young black boy who comes to accept his new home while gaining newfound knowledge of the African-American literary tradition. Langston’s heartfelt, present-tense narration, which assumes a black default, gathers readers so close they’ll be sad to see his story conclude.

A fascinating work of historical fiction that showcases a well-developed, likable protagonist and presents Cline-Ransome at her best. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3960-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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