Sunday, December 29, 2013

Escape From Berlin by Irene N. Watts

Pages: 432
Genre:  YA, Adult Historical Fiction
Source: (Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

From Goodreads:
Good-bye Marianne - As autumn turns toward winter in 1938 Berlin, life for Marianne Kohn, a young Jewish girl, begins to crumble. First there was the burning of the neighborhood shops. Then her father, a bookseller, must leave the family and go into hiding. No longer allowed to go to school or even sit in a café, Marianne's only comfort is her beloved mother.

     Remember Me - Young Marianne is one of the lucky ones. She has escaped on the first Kindertransport organized to take Jewish children out of Germany to safety in Britain. At first Marianne is desperate. Marianne speaks little English and is made to feel unwelcomed in her sponsor's home and, most of all, she misses her mother terribly. As the months pass, she realizes that she cannot control the circumstances around her. She must rely on herself if she is to survive.

     Finding Sophie - Sophie Mandel was only seven years old when she arrived in London on the first Kindertransport from Germany. She has grown up with a friend of her parents, a woman she calls Aunt Em, and despite the war and its deprivations, she has made a good life for herself in England with her foster mother. She has even stopped thinking about the parents she left behind. Now the war is over, and fourteen-year-old Sophie is faced with a terrible dilemma. Where does she belong?

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book.  In the past we have taught about the Kindertransport in my class.  However, I liked this much more than the book the county had picked for us.  It gave us a realistic look into how children were actually treated.  Those of us who have studied and taught about the life of a Jew during the times of the Nazis know that they had a lot of persecution to deal with.  Many parents sent their young children off to England for safe keeping, never knowing if they would be seen again.  They believed that the people taking in their children would treat them like they would their own. This was not always true.  Many of them as you learn from the stories in this book wanted them for free labor,  others saw them as traitors or demons.  I felt for Marianne the main character of the first two stories.  She is bounced around form one home to another.  Mistreated, thrown out or forced to live in opposition to her religious upbringing.  Sophia, the young girl Marianne meets on the train is treated much better.  Her “Aunt Em” is a friend of the family and treats her as if she is a relative. There is very little written about this time and it is refreshing to find a book that does such a wonderful job of telling it, even though the story is historical fiction.  This will be a great addition to my bookshelves at school.

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