A moving tale of the horrors of the holocaust





A sensitive portrayal of the suffering of Jewish families during the Holocaust. Hanna has always dreamed of becoming a concert pianist but these dreams are shattered by the coming of the Nazi regime to Hungary. AS the story opens she and her family are being rounded up out of the ghetto where they have been forced to live and into concentration camps. The stress has taken its toll on their mother but Hanna and her brave sister, Erika, are determined to survive, so they can follow their father’s instructions to tell others about the horrors they have been forced to face.

Ultimately, it is Hanna’s musical talent that saves the day: she is selected to play for the Commandant and this earns her a warm coat, extra food and the enmity of others in her camp. Even Erika begins to wonder about Hanna’s Jewish faith when it appears that Hanna is falling in love with the Commandant’s son.  Can this really be love or is it just gratitude .. and how can she have feelings for a Nazi son?

The ending may seem a little unlikely but the story as a whole is a compelling read for anyone wanting to know more about the Holocaust. The characters may be fictional but the events are described with the ring of truth.

A thought provoking novel, it was shortlisted for the 2013 Book of The Year (Older Readers).

Recommended (dma) ****

War time intrigue: Finding Darcy

Genre: War, Family Relationships
Interest Level: Year 9/10

There is an interesting blend of themes in this compelling novel. On one hand there is the story of Darcy who is being bullied at school and facing family problems at home. The family issues are worsened when she is given a research task by her social studies teacher which involves interviewing family members about wartime experiences. For Darcy’s problem is that her family is haunted by death of her great-grandfather during the war, an experience which no-one will discuss. The intrigue behind this mystery leads Darcy to learn more about an incident in Australia’s involvement in WW2 which will provide compelling revelations for most readers. As Darcy finds herself she also finds her family and helps them to find solace for past grief. Darcy is a likable character and the school scenes are well drawn and believable. An intriguing story which should appeal to both girls and boys; to those who enjoy reading about relationships and those who are fascinated by war. This novel was longlisted for the 2008 Inkys.

Highly Recommended (dma): *****