THE MOST DAZZLING GIRL IN BERLIN

“I shiver. / How much has changed / in a week.” And we all shivered with her.

Recounting the months before Hitler’s rise to power in 1932, Catholic orphan Hilde, an 18-year-old resident of Berlin, documents her life in a series of free-verse poems. Her story begins as she leaves the orphanage and follows her through a brief period of homelessness and unemployment before she finds the Café Lila, a queer nightclub that ultimately provides employment, security, and a sense of community previously missing from Hilde’s life. It also brings her in contact with gorgeous Rosa, a Jewish performer and waitress with a vivacious attitude who quickly captures Hilde’s heart. Astute readers will understand what horrible fates await many of the characters but will be captivated by the events that Hilde observes, many of which still echo today. Book clubs will find a lot to discuss in Hilde’s story, and educators won’t need to work hard to generate conversations about equality, authoritarianism, and the role of minorities in democracy. The free-form verse is inviting and masterfully captures the mood and times in sparse poetry, making this work equally appealing for pleasure reading. Educators and history buffs will appreciate the thorough and informative backmatter, which includes selected sources in both English and German, a glossary of terms, and an author’s note that provides valuable context and recommends more information about the time period.

Wunderbar! (Verse historical fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-44890-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Versify/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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An important, well-executed work of historical fiction.

BLUEBIRD

The story of two teenagers at the end of World War II: one raised by Nazis, the other a German immigrant new to the United States.

It’s 1946, and Eva is arriving in America, a refugee from Germany. The narrative then flips to 1945. Sixteen-year-old Inge has been raised a Nazi, her doctor father a prominent figure and integral part of the concentration camps. In the aftermath of the war, Inge realizes the atrocities her father and her people were responsible for and vows to atone for the murdered innocents. These are postwar young women hoping to do right by their complicated pasts, the story alternating between their points of view. While the horrors of the Holocaust are certainly discussed, the brutal realities of postwar Germany and the gray areas between good and evil offer a lesser-seen view of World War II. Cameron slowly, delicately weaves these seemingly disparate stories into one seamless storyline. As the two merge into one, there are twists and turns and plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments, even if the pace is a little inconsistent. The grim realities will stay with readers long beyond the book; the truths shared are honest but not gratuitous. All of the main characters are White, though African American artist Augusta Savage plays a minor role, and some background characters are people of color.

An important, well-executed work of historical fiction. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35596-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Movingly unravels themes of belonging, Islamophobia, and the interlocking oppressions thrust upon immigrant women.

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HOME IS NOT A COUNTRY

What happens when both the place you come from and the place you are feel distant and unaccepting?

These are the questions Nima sets out to answer. A 14-year-old, working-class, Muslim, immigrant kid raised by a single mother in suburban America—that’s Nima. They left their unnamed homeland (contextual clues point to Sudan) in pursuit of a better life, one that didn’t seem to find them. But Nima’s mind often wanders back to her roots, to the Arabic songs she listens to on cassette and old photographs of her parents—things she longs to be a part of. At school, Nima is bullied for her accented English, her obvious poverty, and her mother’s hijab. Haitham, the neighbor boy who’s more like a sibling, goes to the same school and is Nima’s only friend. But one day Haitham is beaten up in a hate crime, winding up in the hospital hooked up to machines. The abyss between Nima and her mother begins to grow as Nima learns more about her father’s absence. Elhillo’s novel, which contains light fantastical elements, tells the story of a Muslim girl traversing post–9/11 America with the baggage of a past she does not yet fully understand. The vivid imagery creates a profound sensory experience, evoking intense emotions in a story that will resonate with readers from many backgrounds.

Movingly unravels themes of belonging, Islamophobia, and the interlocking oppressions thrust upon immigrant women. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17705-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Make Me a World

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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