Disturbingly plausible, definitely thought- and discussion-provoking.

YOU CAN'T SEE THE ELEPHANTS

Seeing evidence that a neighbor’s children are being abused, a young teenager looks for adult help and finds none in this disquieting German import.

Summering with her grandparents in a quiet small town and largely left to her own devices, 13-year-old Mascha is shocked to see bruises and other wounds on the two children—Julia, 9, and 7-year-old Max—of the local car dealer. After later witnessing a violent scene through their window, she hastens to tell her grandma, who responds with a blanket denial: “They’re good people. Everyone here knows that. Those things don’t happen here!” Despite similar responses from other adults, she nerves herself for a 911 call but (realistically) is so nervous and inarticulate that she’s dismissed as a prankster. In desperation, she kidnaps the children with a wild story about their parents being suddenly called away, locks them in an abandoned house, and struggles to keep them quiet and fed. Unsurprisingly, this ill-conceived scheme turns nearly to disaster when searchers find the supposed runaways. Kreller delivers a powerful tale centered on three young people who are out of their depth (“When Daddy whips us, he has a reason,” insists Julia, fierce and secretive) and get no help from a community that, like most, values peace and privacy over all.

Disturbingly plausible, definitely thought- and discussion-provoking. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17209-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Chilling, difficult, and definitely not for readers without a solid understanding of the Holocaust despite the relatively...

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

A young boy grows up in Adolf Hitler’s mountain home in Austria.

Seven-year-old Pierrot Fischer and his frail French mother live in Paris. His German father, a bitter ex-soldier, returned to Germany and died there. Pierrot’s best friend is Anshel Bronstein, a deaf Jewish boy. After his mother dies, he lives in an orphanage, until his aunt Beatrix sends for him to join her at the Berghof mountain retreat in Austria, where she is housekeeper for Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. It is here that he becomes ever more enthralled with Hitler and grows up, proudly wearing the uniform of the Hitler Youth, treating others with great disdain, basking in his self-importance, and then committing a terrible act of betrayal against his aunt. He witnesses vicious acts against Jews, and he hears firsthand of plans for extermination camps. Yet at war’s end he maintains that he was only a child and didn’t really understand. An epilogue has him returning to Paris, where he finds Anshel and begins a kind of catharsis. Boyne includes real Nazi leaders and historical details in his relentless depiction of Pierrot’s inevitable corruption and self-delusion. As with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2006), readers both need to know what Pierrot disingenuously doesn’t and are expected to accept his extreme naiveté, his total lack of awareness and comprehension in spite of what is right in front of him.

Chilling, difficult, and definitely not for readers without a solid understanding of the Holocaust despite the relatively simple reading level. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-030-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read.

MOMENTOUS EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

From the Life of a Cactus series

In the sequel to Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017), Aven Green confronts her biggest challenge yet: surviving high school without arms.

Fourteen-year-old Aven has just settled into life at Stagecoach Pass with her adoptive parents when everything changes again. She’s entering high school, which means that 2,300 new kids will stare at her missing arms—and her feet, which do almost everything hands can (except, alas, air quotes). Aven resolves to be “blasé” and field her classmates’ pranks with aplomb, but a humiliating betrayal shakes her self-confidence. Even her friendships feel unsteady. Her friend Connor’s moved away and made a new friend who, like him, has Tourette’s syndrome: a girl. And is Lando, her friend Zion’s popular older brother, being sweet to Aven out of pity—or something more? Bowling keenly depicts the universal awkwardness of adolescence and the particular self-consciousness of navigating a disability. Aven’s “armless-girl problems” realistically grow thornier in this outing, touching on such tough topics as death and aging, but warm, quirky secondary characters lend support. A few preachy epiphanies notwithstanding, Aven’s honest, witty voice shines—whether out-of-reach vending-machine snacks are “taunting” her or she’s nursing heartaches. A subplot exploring Aven’s curiosity about her biological father resolves with a touching twist. Most characters, including Aven, appear white; Zion and Lando are black.

Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more