Friday, August 15, 2014

My Family for the War

My Family for the War
Anne C. Voorhoeve

My Family for the War

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Summary (from Goodreads):  Escaping Nazi Germany on the kindertransport changes one girl's life forever

At the start of World War II, ten-year-old Franziska Mangold is torn from her family when she boards the kindertransport in Berlin, the train that secretly took nearly 10,000 children out of Nazi territory to safety in England. Taken in by strangers who soon become more like family than her real parents, Frances (as she is now known) courageously pieces together a new life for herself because she doesn't know when or if she'll see her true family again. Against the backdrop of war-torn London, Frances struggles with questions of identity, family, and love, and these experiences shape her into a dauntless, charming young woman.

Originally published in Germany, Anne Voorhoeve's award-winning novel is filled with humor, danger, and romance.

Marcie's Review:  I really enjoyed the story of Franziska, a young German Protestant with Jewish ancestors, who escapes to England on one of the last kindertransports.  I hadn't realized that even people with Jewish ancestors were subject to persecution, and it was interesting to watch Franziska (known as Frances in England) learn about her Jewish faith through her foster family and friends.  As a heroine, Frances had her faults and her personality wasn't always likable, but I felt like that made her realistic - she's a tween girl after all.  What did confuse me is why her friend Bekka played such a prominent role in Frances' memory, while she seemed to forget about her mother so easily.  Perhaps it's a reflection that friends are more important to tweens than parents, but as a mother, I was saddened at how badly she treated her mother and how quickly she replaced her birth family with her foster family.  While I would understand a refugee child needing to do this to survive, it seemed like the author could have spent more time developing that need, and not treat it so casually.

Marcie's Rating: 4 stars

Becky's Review:  I found this book quite fascinating because I did not realize that people of Jewish heritage who never had been Jewish but in fact Protestant were persecuted by the Nazis and had to flee from Germany if they could.  It was ironic that Ziska was taken in by an Orthodox Jewish family in England and she learns what it means to be Jewish from the family.  I enjoyed reading about Ziska's experiences in England.  I had to remember while reading that this is a young adult book so there wasn't as much meat to the story as I am used to.  I felt like events and subsequent feelings were being told to me rather than trying to let me experience them. I didn't feel an emotional connection to any of the characters in the story and I didn't feel anything while reading the story.  I also didn't understand how Ziska could forget about her mother and I didn't feel that the author adequately explored the relationship between Ziska and her mother at the end.   There were times that I was confused by what was happening in the book.

Becky's Rating: 3 1/2 stars

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