After escaping from a Nazi slave labor camp, all 13-year-old Luka Barukovich wants to do is to get back to his home in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this sequel to Skrypuch’s Making Bombs for Hitler (2017).
“You have the tools to heal yourself,” Luka’s pharmacist father used to say, and this wisdom and his resourcefulness help him navigate his way through a kindly couple’s farm, a long journey through mountainous German terrain, and a stint in the (literally) underground Ukrainian Insurgent Army, not to mention two displaced persons camps and a misguided return to the Soviet zone after the war. So determined is he to survive that at one point Luka even kills a Nazi soldier. After the war, Luka searches doggedly for his beloved work-camp friend, Lida, as well as his parents. Skrypuch continues to shed light on the double jeopardy that many Ukrainians experienced: first mandated to work in dangerous German munitions factories under Nazi control, only then to be forced postwar to repatriate under Stalin’s rule, where anyone who “allowed themselves” (as it’s put with heavy irony in the author’s note) to be captured by the Nazis was considered a traitor. The subject matter is powerful and grows occasionally quite intense.
A page-turning window into a complex piece of World War II history. (Historical fiction. 8-12)