A worthwhile addition to historical romance that honors one real French town’s tragic and true event.

WHAT WE DID FOR LOVE

RESISTANCE, HEARTBREAK, BETRAYAL

Set against the backdrop of World War II, Farrant’s first for teens (After Iris, 2013, etc.) captures the whirlwind of first love and the complications of taking action during a most dangerous time.

With great anticipation, Arianne and her cousin Solange watch Luc Belleville and his mother arrive back in town after a five-year absence. Rumors as to why they’ve returned abound in their small French town, Samaroux. Arianne and Luc were once childhood friends, but their last meeting ended in a fight. Now reunited, they fall in love, a romance that grows and blossoms during visits to an abandoned house. The novel unfolds like a movie, as readers are privy to the thoughts of other characters: There is Romy, who is hopelessly in love with Arianne; Paul, Arianne’s little brother, who spies for Romy; and Alois, the German soldier who grapples with wartime guilt and perhaps deserves to be the focus of his own novel. By the book’s third act, the plot centers on how Luc’s decision to help the Resistance and its consequences affect the whole town. While the final chapters are heartbreaking, Farrant manages to slip in beauty during a fearsome scene with Paul that offers hope to an unimaginable conclusion: “Sun danced on ash, a pillar of light.”

A worthwhile addition to historical romance that honors one real French town’s tragic and true event. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62324-028-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scarlet Voyage/Enslow

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe.

PRISONER B-3087

If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told. At least, the very beginning of this historical novel reads as such.

It is 1939, and Yanek Gruener is a 10-year old Jew in Kraków when the Nazis invade Poland. His family is forced to live with multiple other families in a tiny apartment as his beloved neighborhood of Podgórze changes from haven to ghetto in a matter of weeks. Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones. Yet as the story darkens, it begs the age-old question of when and how to introduce children to the extremes of human brutality. Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener, who remarkably survived not just one, but 10 different concentration camps, this is an extraordinary, memorable and hopeful saga told in unflinching prose. While Gratz’s words and early images are geared for young people, and are less gory than some accounts, Yanek’s later experiences bear a closer resemblance to Elie Wiesel’s Night than more middle-grade offerings, such as Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. It may well support classroom work with adult review first.

A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-45901-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch.

RESISTANCE

A Jewish girl joins up with Polish resistance groups to fight for her people against the evils of the Holocaust.

Chaya Lindner is forcibly separated from her family when they are consigned to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. The 16-year-old is taken in by the leaders of Akiva, a fledgling Jewish resistance group that offers her the opportunity to become a courier, using her fair coloring to pass for Polish and sneak into ghettos to smuggle in supplies and information. Chaya’s missions quickly become more dangerous, taking her on a perilous journey from a disastrous mission in Krakow to the ghastly ghetto of Lodz and eventually to Warsaw to aid the Jews there in their gathering uprising inside the walls of the ghetto. Through it all, she is partnered with a secretive young girl whom she is reluctant to trust. The trajectory of the narrative skews toward the sensational, highlighting moments of resistance via cinematic action sequences but not pausing to linger on the emotional toll of the Holocaust’s atrocities. Younger readers without sufficient historical knowledge may not appreciate the gravity of the events depicted. The principal characters lack depth, and their actions and the situations they find themselves in often require too much suspension of disbelief to pass for realism.

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14847-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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