World War Two

Irena’s Children

Irena’s Children: A True Story of Courage, written by Tilar J. Mazzeo and published in 2016 by Gallery Books, Trifecta Creative Holdings, Inc, is a harrowing story of secrecy, sacrifice, bravery, and love in a time of war. This book falls under the biography and WWII genres.

Irena’s Children tells the tale of a heroic woman named Irena Sendler who organized the rescue of over 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during the German occupation. Working closely with her old college friends, Irena smuggled babies in handbags and older children through the sewage systems, changed their names and identities, then found them new homes either in orphanages or Polish foster families willing to risk their lives and those of their family to help save these Jewish children. Read as Irena and her band of fighters save children, smuggle food and medicine into the Ghetto, stage resistance battles, and narrowly escape arrest. Sometimes, however; their operations didn’t always go as planned, and more than one brave soul lost their life for freedom.

I would highly recommend this book for ages 16+. It’s a well-written, fascinating biography written more like a novel than a history book. There is quite a bit of violence to be on guard for, as well as a few mature themes and some mild profanity. I highly enjoyed reading this book-it’s easily one of my favorite WWII biographies, with accurate representation of the facts and respect for both sides of the struggle. All in all, a masterful book about the German occupation of Warsaw and the horrors, and bravery, that resulted from it. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Book Thief

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*** The Book Thief-LAST LINE***
I have hated the words and
I have loved them,
and I hope I have made them right.*

Liesel Meminger is a thief. A book thief. She steals the words and devours them, then spills them out to others. But it is a dangerous time for words. The Führer is orchestrating war, and it is sweeping across the world. Nazi Germany is not friendly to words. Or Jews. So when Liesel’s family hides both words and a Jew in their house, they must be careful. Death is busy, but not too busy to make a stop at Himmel Street.

I saw the book thief three times.*

I highly recommend The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak and published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf, for ages 17+. This was a phenomenal read; featuring books, colors, swastikas, fire, love, teddy bears, stolen apples, and Death himself. The Book Thief brought out the horrors of war and hatred, but also the joys of love, kindness, and words. Moving and impactful-but with a few mature themes and some language to watch out for, as well as violence. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Yes, often, I am reminded of her, and in one of my vast array of pockets, I have kept her story to retell. It is one of the small legion I carry, each one extraordinary in its own right. Each one an attempt-an immense leap of an attempt-to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.
Here it is. One of a handful.
The Book Thief.
If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story.
I’ll show you something.*

I am haunted by humans.*

 

*All excerpts taken from The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak and published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Beautifully simple in its storyline, yet complexly moving in its subject matter-The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, written by John Boyne and published in 2006 by David Fickling Books, is a book well worth the read. It features a lonely boy named Bruno who has to leave his old house in Berlin (which has five floors) and move to a new house at a place he calls “Out-With” (which only has three floors). His father is a high-ranking soldier who must fulfill his duty to his country-although Bruno doesn’t understand why it has to be at this lonely place where the only other people (besides soldiers) are wearing striped pajamas on the other side of a tall wire fence. But after he discovers a friend, life becomes more bearable at Out-With-even though this friend is always hungry, wearing striped pajamas, and on the other side of the fence. This unusual friendship blossoms despite the fence, the soldiers, and the foul weather-but friendships of this sort often result in consequences. And these consequences may be of an unexpected-and devastating-sort.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 13+. It falls under the historical fiction genre and is also labelled as a fable. There are some mature themes to watch out for-this book deals with the effects of war and hatred upon children, and how we’re truly all the same, despite our heritage and looks. One of the most heart wrenching books I’ve ever read. 4 out of 5 stars.

Evidence Not Seen

Featuring answered prayer, bombs, jungle prisons, midnight intrigues, and bananas; Evidence Not Seen tells the first-hand account of missionary Darlene Deibler Rose, the first American woman to enter the Baliem Valley of New Guinea. She trekked the jungles of New Guinea with her husband, was captured by the Japanese during WWII, incarcerated in a horrible prison camp, and forced to sign a false confession while facing execution at the hand of her merciless guards. This book tells of unshakable faith and wonderous miracles that will inspire the reader. Written by Mrs. Rose herself and published in 1988 by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; this book falls under the autobiography, WWII, and Christian biography genres.
I would highly recommend Evidence Not Seen for ages 15+. There is some violence and minor mature themes that might be unsuited for younger readers. All in all, an inspiring read with Godly themes and historical benefits. 4 out of 5 stars.

A Prisoner and Yet…

Arrested by Nazi soldiers, abused and imprisoned, then later forced to work in the horrible concentration camps of Vught and Ravensbruck, Corrie ten Boom had every right to feel anger and bitterness against her captors and God. Seeing the suffering of all those around her, the terrible tortures of men, women, and children-as well sharing in them herself-may have hardened her heart and caused her to reject the grace and mercies of her Almighty Creator. However, that was not the case of this brave Dutch woman. Read her memoir, A Prisoner and Yet…, published by the Christian Literature Crusade in 1954, to get a firsthand account of life in Nazi work camps in World War Two; as well as Corrie’s testimony of the goodness of God-even as a prisoner.
This book is incredibly powerful and moving. It is written in first person, and makes you feel as if you are really there-there with Corrie as she helps the Jews hide from the German Nazis, there with her as she stands strong for her faith in the flea and lice infested prison camps, and there with her as she experiences the sorrow of losing both her father and sister to the atrocities of life in prison. The descriptions in this book are excellent, and it is at about a medium reading level.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 15+. The horrors faced by Corrie are quite graphic; and there are some mature themes that are mentioned. It is a fascinating read with profound themes and an overall stirring story. 4 out of 5 stars.