THE HIDEOUT by Sigrid Heuck
Kirkus Star


Email this review


When a dark-eyed child who remembers only that her name is Rebecca is found in a bombed-out house, authorities send her to an orphanage managed by kind Aunt Lilly. Partly because Rebecca doesn't share their Aryan looks, the other children mock her cruelly, but in her amnesiac state--and distracted by the terror of the almost constant bombing at the end of WW II--she is able to ignore them. Nearby, she finds Sami--a refugee boy whose outspoken mother was taken to a ""camp""--who has built himself a hideout in a bomb crater in a cornfield. Sami's imaginative stories are so vivid that they seem real, an island of peace in a war-tom world. Meanwhile, Aunt Lilly is caught listening to the BBC and taken away; and when Rebecca is also threatened with a camp, she escapes to Sami, as battle rages and the village falls to the British. The author's evocation of life, from heroism to petty jealousies, continuing despite the war's violence, is based on her own childhood experience. The counterpoint of Sami's delicate fables--each translating the horror into a metaphor with a consoling resolution (a mouse king requires a quarreling couple to dance until they make peace; King Sami and Queen Rebecca forget even their corn-dolly child, Alice, in their struggle for power--but after Alice dies, Queen Rebecca sows the field to grow new food, and make a new doll)--transforms the grim account into a paean to the survival of the human spirit through the imagination, as expressed in heartbreakingly serious play. Gripping and unforgettable.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Dutton