Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE OTHER HALF OF LIFE by Kim Ablon Whitney


by Kim Ablon Whitney

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: May 12th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-85219-0
Publisher: Knopf

In this fictionalized account of the MS St. Louis, 15-year-old Thomas travels from Germany to Cuba to escape the Nazis in 1939. Thanks to a sympathetic captain, the Jewish passengers are treated well by the Nazi crew. Aboard the ship, Thomas befriends another Jewish family, the Affeldts, and spends his leisure time honing his chess game. Via hiding and spying, Thomas and the Affeldts discover that although they have landing permits, Cuba might not allow them to enter. This scenario does come to pass and America will not allow them entrance, either, so the ship is forced to return to Europe. Separated from the Affeldts, Thomas promises to meet their oldest daughter, whom he loves, five years after they disembark. The author lightens the necessarily dark World War II–era atmosphere by involving Thomas in chess and a romance. Although Thomas doesn’t have much of a personality, the pacing and onboard mysteries will keep readers involved with his story. Includes a timeline and resources on the Holocaust, the German resistance, ocean liners and chess. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)