Published by Mandel Vilar Press on September 11th 2018
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**This book was inspired by real Holocaust events
Hanna Slivka is almost fourteen years old when her entire world is turned upside down. Hitler’s army has crossed into the Soviet occupied Ukraine. They are intent on making the land “free of Jews.” Hanna’s life goes from exploring with her siblings and helping her neighbor decorate psyanky eggs, to having rocks thrown at her on her walk home from school, to hiding in the walls of her home when the army comes, to eventually leaving everything behind to seek safety in the forest and eventually in an underground cave with several other families.
The caves, although they provide protection, do not let in any sunlight, fresh air and keeps them in perpetual darkness both literally and figuratively. They do not know what is going on in the outside world, until their members must leave to find food and hopefully trade with nearby farmers.
This book is a well written account of what it was like to live/survive during the Holocaust. Where neighbors either helped neighbors or turned on them. Where hatred and racism tore away people’s morals and values. A time when fear and hatred ruled the day. But in the darkness of the caves, humanity existed. People helped people, lives were lived, hope remained, and the true meaning of what makes a home is learned.
This is a timely book as there are so very few Holocaust survivors left in the world. Books such as this one keeps their stories and memories alive. No one truly knows what he/she is capable of until they are placed to the test. Readers may ask “could I survive this?” I hope none of us ever have to find out.
As I mentioned this book is well written and contains beautiful descriptions of nature. I enjoyed Hanna’s relationship with her next-door neighbor and both of their openness and interest in each other’s lives. This book showed the strength of family bonds but also showed the strength of friendship and how small acts of kindness can not only make someone’s day but can also save a life. This is a wonderful book about courage, survival, and family for readers of all ages but is geared for the YA population.
A 2018 Skipping Stones Honor Award Book
Thank you to Mandel Vilar Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.