Finished: Nov. 4, 2007
Reason for Reading: this is on the shortlist for the Gov. Gen. Award. Also qualifies for the Canadian Book Challenge.
First Published: 2006
Genre: YA, historical fiction
"Why aren't you ready? Tamas is waiting for us at Castle Hill!" said Klari.
Comments: Set in Hungary during the last year of World War II, this tells the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of a 14 year old Hungarian Jewish girl, Jutka. The story is told in three distinct parts. Part One shows life for Jutka's family in Nazi-occupied Hungary, Part Two takes Jutka to the bowels of Hell in Auschwitz, and Part Three sees the end of the war and follows Jutka as she moves from concentration camp to refugee camp. The day before Jutka is sent to Auschwitz she receives a care package from a relative in Canada which includes a Canadian travel booklet. The scenes of the pure driven snow and happy smiling faces of Canadians populate her dreams as she journeys through this last horrific year of the war.
This is a very emotional story and equally brutal. The author does not pull any punches as she shows the inhumanity of the Nazis treatment of the Jews. And yet there is hope in Jutka and humanity in the people who are joined together in their suffering.
The reader is aided by the historical maps at the front of the book and the glossary and pronunciation guide found in the back. I would most definitely call this a YA book and not one for young children. It is also one of the most heart-wrenching books I've read this year and highly recommended.