MILKWEED by Jerry Spinelli
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 9 - 14
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When the reader first meets the narrator of this tale, he knows himself only as “Stopthief.” He is a Warsaw street orphan, without morals, without culture, without community—until Uri takes him in to join his pack of fellow orphans, all Jews. Life is good for the newly renamed Misha, until the Jackboots arrive and force him and his fellow orphans into the ghetto, where life becomes increasingly more desperate and community—both that of the orphans and of Janina, a little girl whose family he adopts—increasingly necessary. Spinelli’s choice of narrator is a masterstroke. Because Misha has no sense of anything except his own immediate needs and desires, he has no urge to explain the bizarre and fundamentally irrational events that befall him. He simply reports graphically, almost clinically, on the slow devastation of the Jews of Warsaw and on the changes in his own relationships, to friends and world, brought about by the experience. His own psychological and social growth is almost lost on the reader until a coda, that still makes no attempt to explain, finally finds him at peace. Stunning. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 2003
ISBN: 0-375-81374-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2003


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