Tag: WWII

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Published: July 29, 2008
277 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Kim’s Review:

There’s been a buzz around this book since Netflix announced that they would be turning it into a movie. I definitely wanted to read it before I watched. I really liked this book! It’s an easy read with a simple story and likable characters. I was a little hesitant with the letter format and it definitely isn’t my favorite, but by end, I had gotten used to it. The small issue of homosexuality was introduced and handled maturely but not historically.  No one during that time would have been so open to a stranger about homosexuality when it was literally against the law. Thankfully, it wasn’t a major part of the story.

Juliet is a funny, passionate protagonist and I couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out what happened to her. Interestingly, one of the most potent characters didn’t even make an appearance! Most of the people on the island of Guernsey are spunky and fun. I had such a great time getting to know them! Even the nasty people on the island made me laugh! While there is a set story-line that was entertaining, this is definitely a character-centric book! If you don’t want to visit Guernsey to meet the people there, then you read the book wrong! A great one for lovers of historical fiction! A great book!!!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen

 

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published: August 28, 2018
400 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5  stars

Book Description:

Chaya Lindner is a teenager living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Simply being Jewish places her in danger of being killed or sent to the camps. After her little sister is taken away, her younger brother disappears, and her parents all but give up hope, Chaya is determined to make a difference. Using forged papers and her fair features, Chaya becomes a courier and travels between the Jewish ghettos of Poland, smuggling food, papers, and even people.

Soon Chaya joins a resistance cell that runs raids on the Nazis’ supplies. But after a mission goes terribly wrong, Chaya’s network shatters. She is alone and unsure of where to go, until Esther, a member of her cell, finds her and delivers a message that chills Chaya to her core, and sends her on a journey toward an even larger uprising in the works — in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Though the Jewish resistance never had much of a chance against the Nazis, they were determined to save as many lives as possible, and to live — or die — with honor.

Kim’s Review:

This book blew my socks off! I’ve read Nielsen before and enjoyed her books, but this one takes the cake and the icing and the candles and all the presents too! I’ve been reading a lot of Holocaust fiction lately and I had my eye on this book for a while. It was released just last month and I picked it up almost as soon as Amazon delivered it.

At first, I was nervous that I wasn’t going to like Chaya. She seemed to have an air of superiority about her that didn’t suit her. She was quick to acknowledge her own service and sacrifice. That did get much better the further into the book I got. She became believable and realistic with her fear and courage. Esther was more pitiful than anything but it was nice to see her grow and mature throughout the story. The resistance network in Poland was impressive and even though I knew the history and what happened, I found myself hoping that just this once, things would turn out differently. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, that something like that would never happen in America because our mindset is completely different from Europeans. I am by no means victim-shaming, I’m simply pointing out that Americans, with our guns and natural rebelliousness, would have put up far more of a fight. This book showed that there were many people who showed that “not all sheep go like lambs to the slaughter.” I loved seeing how people refused to be cowed and exterminated without resisting.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, though technically a failure, is shown to be such a heroic effort in this book. I’ve never studied it in detail, but the people involved in the Uprising were people of courage and hope and I was so inspired by their sacrifices. I also appreciated how Nielsen showed the impact of young people in the resistance. In the face of such evil and the slaughter of their people, even teens took up arms and were willing to sacrifice themselves to save the lives of people they didn’t know. This is another book that every single middle and high school history teacher should have on his or her shelf as required reading. I found myself tearing up at the end and then wanting reread it all over again! I cannot say enough good about this book and I recommend it to everyone, especially any teen!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Author: John Boyne
Published: September 12, 2006
224 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Berlin 1942:

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

Kim’s Review:

This is one of those books that will rip your heart out and stomp on it . . . and what makes it different is that you don’t know your heart will be ripped out until it happens!!

However, before I even start talking about the book, I will say that this is one of those rare occasions that I suggest watching the movie before the book. Yes, there are differences, but I actually had a better experience reading the book since I knew a little more about what was going on. And to be fair, I gave John Boyne some grief last year when I read The Boy at the Top of the Mountain last year. But what he got wrong in that book, he didn’t in this one. Boyne has a knack for showing the other side of the story. He writes about the Holocaust from the perspective, not just of the Nazis involved, but of the children of those Nazis, affected by their parents’ actions.

Bruno shows such a purity and innocence that we have a hard time attributing to Germans during WW2. And where it seemed that passes were given in The Boy at the Top of the Mountain, and some explanation given in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, there seems to be far more consequences in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

The Holocaust is condemned very clearly by the ending of this book and any “justification” offered by any of the characters is therefore rendered void. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is such an emotional book and I think a new and different perspective on some very difficult subjects. I absolutely recommend this book for anybody 12 years old and older. I believe this book should be required reading at one point for every student in order to graduate high school. Emotional and poignant and insightful.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

 

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