Schur (When I Left My Village, 1996, etc.) draws on family history for this ominous tale of German and Polish Jews facing rising tides of anti-Semitism in the years before Hitler's rise. In the wake of her father's death at Verdun, young Lena Katz and her mother run a successful shoe store in Ledniezno, once a town in Germany, now part of a reconstituted Poland. Being both German and Jewish, they and their friends come under increasing attacks as the years go by—a time in which Heine's poems become attributed to ``anonymous'' in new editions of Lena's textbooks, newspaper and government antagonism toward Jewish businesses becomes more open, and local support for the Nazis grows. Lena's mother refuses to leave Poland, promising better times ahead and angrily rejecting the Zionism of Lena's heartthrob, Janusz. Spanning the years between 1917 to 1932, the plot is episodic and slow to develop; Lena's innocence in the face of all she sees and hears is artificially prolonged, while the ending, in which Lena at first refuses and then decides to accompany Janusz to Palestine, passes without even a parting scene with her mother. A brief afterword encapsulates the Holocaust and the foundation of Israel. The novel offers readers a moving glimpse of how public opinion set the stage for genocide, although that purpose occasionally engulfs the storyline and characters. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-2295-8

Page Count: 213

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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A dysfunctional family in the neighborhood gives a young orphan new appreciation for her own abbreviated but loving household in this promising but uneven flashback. When the Wallings move across the street from Shanta Cola Morgan's Atlanta home during the last summer of WW II, she makes two quick friends: secretive Denise, nearly her own age, and Earl, a brain-damaged 21-year-old. Having been raised by her frail grandmother and Uncle Louie—who is nearly paralyzed by arthritis—Shanta envies Denise her parents, until she sees how joyless and cruel they are, and begins to suspect that the family is deeply troubled. Her suspicions are confirmed when she peeks into their cellar one night and finds Earl chained to a wall. Denise and Earl may be sketchily drawn, but Shanta and her grandmother are lively, loving spirits, and the quiet heroism with which Louie preserves hope and self-respect as both his body and his marriage disintegrate almost overshadows the main plot. Shanta frames this as a decades-old memory; despite the present- tense narration, the pacing is slow, and the efforts to draw parallels between the battles overseas and those closer to home are strained at best. Readers impressed by Oughton's Music From a Place Called Half Moon (1995) will find some equally vivid characters here, but may be disappointed by the low level of tension and a quick, too-tidy ending. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-81568-1

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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Laboriously harking back to the pulp juveniles of yestercentury—or at least their melodramatic plotting and uncomplicated values—Bell presents the continued exploits of intrepid teen Nick McIver, boy time traveler. Bound and determined to become a hero “molded in the face of danger,” Nick stages a destructive raid on a Nazi airfield in 1940, then darts back to 1781 to rescue his kidnapped little sister from the clutches of hook-handed pirate Billy Blood in the Caribbean, recover from wounds at Mount Vernon (“What’s wrong wid dat po’ chile?” asks the estate’s Cook, before stitching him up sans anesthetic) then rescuing De Grasse’s French fleet from ambush off Nassau so it can sail north to ensure General Washington’s victory at Yorktown. Laced with old-timey language, wild coincidences, arbitrarily trotted-out bit players from the Marquis de Lafayette and Winston Churchill to the odd strumpet or Indian warrior, lurid murders (“The dying victims’ blood mingled with the juice from hundreds of crates of tomatoes”) and explosions aplenty, this doorstopper sequel to Nick of Time (2008) may have a certain retro appeal to adrenaline junkies. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 13, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-57810-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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