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February 2023

World War II Fiction

22nd January 2011

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr: This juvenile autobiographical novel tells the story of 9 year old Anna and her family.  Anna’s family must flee their Berlin home for the relative safety of Switzerland, leaving friends, family, and most of their belongings behind.  Anna’s life as a refugee is completely different from the one she left in Germany.  In spite of the hardships and danger, she learns to cherish her family even more, and even finds satisfaction in making their new life together.

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer: Gustave and his family leave Paris just ahead of the Nazis, settling in a small French village that happens to be just across the river from Nazi occupied France.  Even though the Nazis technically aren’t in control of Gustave’s village, the Vichy French government is still in complete cooperation with the Nazi agenda.  Gustave comes to realize that he must face his fears and help the people close to him, even if it means risking his life to do so.  While the story is fiction, many of the events in the book are based on real events from the Meyer’s father’s life.

While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin: Penny, trying to escape her domineering parents, agrees to care for handsome Eddie Shaffer’s children, Esther and Peter, when he goes off to war.  Jacob Mendel, still grieving after his wife’s death, spends every spare moment searching for his grown son and family, trapped in Nazi controlled Hungary.  Esther and Peter, missing both mother and father, desperately need someone to love and care for them.  Everyone is searching for meaning, comfort and reason in a broken world.  This was definitely one of Austin’s best books.  The stories of the characters are alternately told, without being distracting.  While the ending was somewhatpredictable, there were a few surprises, and throughout the book, God’s love, mercy, providence and unseen workings are gently shown, without being preachy or overly dramatic.

Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli: Roberto and his friends are taken from their Italian town by German soldiers and sent to a work camp deep in Nazi occupied Europe.  Struggling to survive and to protect his best friend, Roberto must find the courage to finally fight for his freedom.  An excellent book.  There is a sequel, Fire in the Hills, that I am eager to read.

This thin volume, based on a true story, is powerful and intense.   Park tells the true story of two children from Sudan.  Salva is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.  He flees his hometown in 1985 and begins a journey that will last over 11 years and take him ultimately to America.  Nya lives in modern Sudan.  Her days are filled with one task–walking to get water.  She spends 8 hours a day walking, making 2 round trips each day to fill up her family’s water jugs.  Alternating between Salva’s and Nya’s stories, Park tells how hope came to one Sudanese village through the perseverance and courage of one young boy and the many who helped him on his journey.

Dara lives in Cambodia in early 1980. She has to flee her home because of war. Her friendship with a girl named Jantu helps her develop courage to finally bring her family back home.

This book reminds me of a movie I saw when I was little about a Cambodian family who moved to the U.S. I just can’t remember the name! The book discusses the effects of war on the innocent — is it easier or does it take more courage to fight or to make peace?