Review / The Safest Lie

Book: The Safest Lie (2015)
Author: Angela Cerrito
Genre: MG, Historical [WWII]

Basic plot:  Anna Bauman is no longer Anna Bauman, all because she’s Jewish. She has to learn a new name and a completely new identity. First, she ends up in an orphanage, and then with a Polish family. She just tries to survive the war …

Opening lines from the book …
Mama’s arm is draped over me, soft as a butterfly’s wing. Papa clears his throat and pats at his coat pockets. He’s been awake all night guarding us from the two men who arrived yesterday.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) I found it fascinating how Anna manages to learn all about her new Catholic identity, and yet still remains true to her Jewishness. She may be Anna Karwolska during the day, at night she’s Anna Bauman. And I found it interesting to see her

2) The book spans several years of the war. It was interesting to see the various places she stays… from the initial mother and daughter team who rescue her to the nuns at the orphanage to the family who distribute a secret resistance newspaper.

3) Which brings me to my favourite part of the book. I loved the part Anna plays in helping out with the resistance newspaper. It was nice to see her idea actually work and how she becomes part of the solution in finding a new supply of paper. Go Anna!

4) We never meet the grandma, but her Yiddish sayings permeate the story. And being in Yiddish, they also are quite dangerous for young Anna to repeat out loud, which may or may not happen in the story! I’ll leave you to read all about it.

5) I love authors’ notes and this one did not disappoint! I loved learning about the spark that ignited this story into being… about the real-life woman (Irena Sendler) who rescued so many children from the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. There is even a photo of Irena Sendler and the author!

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) [*Slight Spoiler] The ending fell a little flat to me. I wanted a more definite ending and it ended up being kind of neither here nor there. I guess I wanted her to have a family… either to be reunited with her parents or to be happy with adoptive parents. They do mention the aunt in Canada, but that wasn’t super exciting for me since we don’t really know about her. Although, I wouldn’t mind meeting an aunt in Canada… Maybe Book #2??? [End Spoiler]

FINAL THOUGHTS

I love a good book about people who summon the courage to do things that are just plain scary (like defying the Nazis). I think it’s so important to know that it is possible to do what’s right even when the world around you has gone crazy. Definitely recommend this one for readers interested in history, and especially the history of World War II.

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Broken Strings

Book: Broken Strings (2019)
Author: Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
Genre: MG, Near Historical (2002)
Rating: 3 stars

broken-stringsBasic plot: Shirli Berman has been cast in the musical, Fiddler on the Roof… although not quite in the role she’d hoped for (Hodel). She gets to be an old Jewish mama (Golde); and as she goes to her Jewish grandfather to help give her inspiration for the role, she begins to uncover his own history… something he never talked about. Until now.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The musical, Fiddler on the Roof, was one of the musicals I was a part of in high school. Although, I didn’t get such a plum role as Golde! So, I did enjoy attending the rehearsals with Shirli and all her friends.

2) I loved the relationship between Shirli and her grandfather, Zayde. Every day (or close to it), she brings him groceries and they have tea and talk. Shirli even brings Ben (Tevye in the musical).

3) I found it interesting that the setting is New Jersey in 2002, about six months after 9/11 happened. Of course, the book makes a bunch of connections with that event.

4) The historical connection with the Holocaust and the musicians who played at Auschwitz was something I haven’t come across before. I love it when history comes into books like this. Of course, this one is a very sad and heartbreaking connection.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) [*Spoiler here] When their teacher is in an accident, Zayde comes forward to take her place until production. I wasn’t convinced by this plot point. First, he’s directing a musical he’s never seen before; and he’s avoided ALL musicals and the like for the past 50 years?? I would have preferred one of the kids to step up. Maybe Mindi, Shirli’s rival for Hodel…  [End Spoiler]

2) I wasn’t crazy about the puppy-love story between [*Spoiler] Shirli and Ben. I thought it was kind of unnecessary. And it was a tad predictable. [End Spoiler]

3) Why would ANYbody be unhappy to get the role of Golde is beyond me. (I could understand if she got the understudy.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – I enjoyed this one. I’d recommend for any theatre enthusiasts, as well as those who have an interest in the history of the Holocaust.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday