A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the historical setting in early-1930s Munich makes Prisoner of Night and Fog a good way to introduce teens to the background causes of World War II and the Holocaust in some depth. Hitler's an important character, and kids can think about whether he had a clinical mental illness and about how someone with ideas like getting rid of all the Jewish people in Germany could gain so much political power. Violence is mostly in the form of fistfights, riots, and protests, but there's one throat slashing that includes detail like spraying blood. There's also a couple of instances of violent treatment of animals, including the killing of a beloved pet cat. The love interests kiss a half dozen times or so, but the descriptions are brief and the action's always above the shoulders.
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What's the story?
In early 1930s Munich, the National Socialist (Nazi) party is just coming to power. Seventeen-year-old Gretchen grew up hearing the story of how her father died saving Adolf Hitler's life, and her family's enjoyed Hitler's protection and favor ever since. When Daniel, a mysterious young Jewish journalist, tells her that the story isn't true, she determines to learn the truth about what happened to her father. The more she digs into the past of the burgeoning Nazi party's power elite, Gretchen finds herself really listening to what Hitler's saying and for the first time realizes that everything she's believed has been wrong. Daniel's as committed to the truth as Gretchen is, even when their questions and especially their blossoming romantic feelings put their lives in danger.
Is it any good?
PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG by debut author Anne Blankman is a gripping, compelling story that makes a crucial and complicated period in Western history relatable for teens. The characters are believable and well developed, and the plot deftly weaves a young girl's coming of age with political chaos and solving a mystery. The expositional writing at the very beginning is a bit weak: It's sometimes hard to follow who's who. But characters quickly fall into place as the pace quickens. The ending is satisfying, but leaves plenty of room to look forward to the sequel, which is planned to pick up the action in 1933 when Hitler's elected Chancellor of Germany.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how someone like Hitler can gain political power. What did people see in him? What was life like for most Germans in the years right before Hitler gained power?
Why is historical fiction so popular? Can it teach us anything if the author puts made-up characters into events that really happened?
Do you think what Hitler' said about groups of people believing a big lie more easily than a small one is true?
- Author: Anne Blankman
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and sisters, Great girl role models, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: April 22, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 416
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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