Review Detail

Kids Fiction 516
After the Holocaust
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Nadia and Marusia arrive in Canada after being in Displaced Persons camps in Europe. They are Ukrainian, and Nadia is supposed to refer to Marusia as her mother. They are met by Ivan, who has come ahead and is building a house for the family. There is a small Ukrainian population that is very helpful, and well as a kindly woman who teaches Nadia English before she starts school. Nadia knows that Marusia and Ivan love her, but also feels that they are not really her parents. School is a difficult adjustment; even though the teacher and most students are nice, there are some who call Nadia, with her blonde hair and European style, a Nazi. Eventually, she settles into a routine, makes a friend, Linda, and is increasingly bothered by visions of her past. These come in bits and pieces and are triggered by many different things, from a color or a smell to a school inspector giving her a piece of hard candy. Mikusia has not wanted to tell Nadia about her past, since she doesn't know the whole story and doesn't want to affect the memories, but assures Nadia that she is definitely Ukrainian, and that she is safe and loved in Canada. Eventually, Nadia remembers who she is and what happened to her during the war.
Good Points
I'm not usually a fan of flashbacks to tell the story, but in this case, it was used to excellent effect as Nadia comes to grips with her past. I don't want to ruin it; suffice it to say that Nadia was part of the Nazi's Lebensborn program. I can't think of another middle grade book about this topic, so here's another WWII book that is essential to have in my collection! The fact that it is set post-war is interesting as well, since students don't have a very good picture of what happened during the enormous diaspora following the war. Ivan, Marusia, and the entire community were touching to read about, since they were so supportive and dedicated to making a life after their horrible experiences.

There's a tie in with Making Bombs for Hitler, and keen readers will put these pieces together.

Skrypuch is becoming the Carol Matas of Holocaust books, and one of the few writers to have books that discuss what happened afterwards, along with Matas' After the War, Whelan's After the Train. Readers who have already read plenty of tales set in Europe during this time period, like Spradlin's The Enemy Above, Nielsen's Resistance, Hesse's Girl in the Blue Coat and Stamper's What the Night Brings will find Nadia's story a compelling continuation of the horror of the Holocaust.
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