A gripping tale of one girl's struggle against the Nazis.
German war crimes are the basis for this historical novel, Wolf's first, more noteworthy for its subject matter than for its execution. In 1942, in the small Czech town of Lidice, 11-year-old Milada has just finished celebrating her birthday when soldiers march into town in the middle of the night and order everyone from their homes. Separated from the men and boys, held for three days in another town, Milada and selected other children undergo a series of examinations; two of them, including Milada, are eventually transported to a special school where they are given German names and educated as proper German girls, eventually to be adopted by good Nazi families (Wolf models this part of the story on the Lebensborn program). Through all her ordeals, which grow to include secret knowledge of Czech prisoners held in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, Milada struggles to maintain her identity, hiding the star-shaped garnet pin her grandmother, Babichka, pressed into her palm that last night in Lidice ("Remember who you are, Milada. Remember where you are from. Always," Babichka tells her with the prescience of old age). The drama of the events overshadows the serviceable characterizations, and because neither the razing of Lidice, explained in an endnote, nor the Lebensborn program will be familiar to the target audience, the history propels readers forward where the storytelling does not. Ages 10-14. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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June 15, 2009
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