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June 2023

Elsie is a baker’s daughter in 1945 Germany. Her family is somewhat sheltered from the realities of the war by her older sister’s participation in the Nazi Lebensborn (breeding) program, and the attentions of a Nazi official. When a Jewish boy follows Elsie home and asks for shelter, she must decide whether to continue being her family’s daughter, or if she should choose for herself what is right.

In modern day Texas, Reba meets Elsie, now a bakery owner with a daughter of her own. Reba discovers that the seemingly simple task of interviewing Elsie for a newspaper article opens a floodgate of emotions for both herself and Elsie. Together, the two women reveal pieces of their own stories to each other, and find a way to make peace with the past and the present.

Told in alternating points of view from young Elsie and present day Reba, this novel is hard to put down. While not quite as suspenseful as Sarah’s Key, the story is well-written, and the characters struggle with similar issues of right, wrong and what we can and should do about it.

A fictionalized account of the life of Helmuth Hubener, a German teenager who had the courage to stand up to the Nazis in Germany, at the cost of his life. Bartoletti explores how Hubener came to be drawn into the Hitler Youth Movement, and what possibly might have motivated him to sacrifice everything to tell the German people the truth about Nazi atrocities. Bartoletti wrote this book after researching Hubener’s life for her non-fiction book, Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

09th December 2008

The Book ThiefFantastic.  This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  I don’t have the time to write a review that will do this book justice, but I highly recommend it.  It will make you think, probably make you cry, and will stay with you for a long time.  Add this to your “must-read” list.

One note:  The prologue starts out a little strange–stick with it because the book will draw you in quickly.  Once you’ve finished the book, go back and reread the prologue.