Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis

Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis
Publisher
Age Range
10+
Release Date
March 22, 2022
ISBN
978-0063083899
Buy This Book
      
The moving true story of how young Ukrainian Jewish piano prodigies Zhanna (alias “Anna”) and her sister Frina outplayed their pursuers while hiding in plain sight during the Holocaust. A middle grade nonfiction novel-in-verse by award-winning author Susan Hood with Greg Dawson (Zhanna’s son).
She wouldn’t be Zhanna.She’d use an alias.A for Anna.A for alive.
When the Germans invade Ukraine, Zhanna, a young Jewish girl, must leave behind her friends, her freedom, and her promising musical future at the world’s top conservatory. With no time to say goodbye, Zhanna, her sister Frina, and their entire family are removed from their home by the Nazis and forced on a long, cold, death march. When a guard turns a blind eye, Zhanna flees with nothing more than her musical talent, her beloved sheet music, and her father’s final plea: “I don’t care what you do. Just live.” 

This incredible true story in-verse about sisterhood, survival, and music is perfect for fans of Lifeboat 12, Inside Out and Back Again, and Alan Gratz.

Includes extensive back matter with original letters and photographs, additional information, and materials for further reading.

Editor review

1 review
Never Forget
Overall rating
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
Learning Value
 
5.0
‘Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis’ by Greg Dawson and Susan Hood is a captivating nonfiction story in verse about Zhanna, alias Anna, and her sister, Frina, as they struggle to escape the Holocaust and the Nazis who always pose an obstacle to their freedom.

Zhanna’s father had one plea for her when he told her to run off. He said, “I don’t care what you do. Just live.” So she took those words and literally ran with them, desperate to escape the fate that her parents likely met. Soon, she discovers her sister is still alive, and together they do their best to escape, danger always clicking at their heels.

When they had to leave behind their home, their friends, and the potential for what their future could have been if they had stayed at the world-renowned conservatory where they were students, Zhanna didn’t think her life could ever get back on track. Little did she know that she’d soon be playing music for Nazi guards, having them claim her as their own, unaware of her Jewish upbringing and faith. Her struggles and avoidance of torture, death, and the like is truly amazing. Having people who stood up to help her and her sister, as well as finding out whom she could truly count on while learning there were those whom she couldn’t, is heartbreaking. The story is one of truth, faith, love, and desperation to do anything necessary to survive.

Pictures, letters, and additional notes and references line the back matter of the book, adding to the intensity of the tale and increasing engagement with the sensitive topic that is the Holocaust. Written by Zhanna’s son, Greg Dawson, along with Susan Hood, the book does a superb job of telling Zhanna’s story in third person and incorporating words that Zhanna says herself. The lyrical nature of the book is only heightened by the back and forth storytelling that this imparts. Zhanna’s story is true, and it is extremely telling of the way the world was not even 100 years ago. While scary, it provides a glimpse into a terrifying time that must never be forgotten.
Good Points
Zhanna’s story is true, and it is extremely telling of the way the world was not even 100 years ago. While scary, it provides a glimpse into a terrifying time that must never be forgotten.
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