Too Powerful to Ignore
Any book about the Holocaust is usually something that needs to be read, but not all are successful. This one is successful; it's one of the most successful ones I've come across. Part of that is likely because the narrator of this story is Death, which is a fresh perspective, and one that we needed.
Language: The book is set in 1940s Nazi Germany, and language is used throughout the book that is relevant to that time period. The curse words are in German, but some translations are given, and if they aren't, Google can tell you. A lot of the time context clues can also show you what the words mean, so even though it's a foreign language, the words are still present in English.
Drinking/ Drugs: This is the 1940s. The effects of alcohol and tobacco aren't public concern yet. The main character's foster father likes to roll his own cigarettes, and teaches the main character how to roll them for him. She takes drags from the cigarettes once or twice. Drinking isn't shown as much, there's only one instance I can think of. The foster father is being paid for work he did in champagne, and he lets the main character have a glass. She didn't like the bubbles, but the underage drinking still occurred and is present in the book.
Violence: It's a book about the Holocaust. Violence not occurring is impossible. There's talk about the war- one soldier returns home missing 3 fingers on his right hand. He tells the main character how his brother died after getting both his legs blown off by a bomb. This character missing his fingers later commits suicide by hanging himself with a bedsheet. The foster father goes to war and works during air raids, seeing many bodies and injured people throughout. A Jewish man the main character gets to know is later seen walking in a concentration camp march, emaciated. The foster father is beaten for feeding Jewish men on a concentration camp march. At the end of the book, an air raid kills people on the main character's street, and she finds the bodies. With Death as the narrator, he seems almost immune to the violence. It's like he's indifferent, and that makes it creepier in a way.
Educational Value: This is the best book at describing the Holocaust that I have seen. It shows the home life of World War II in Germany, which is another fresh perspective. You see how the war tore families apart, how ideas and words can influence people to do extreme things, and it shows you how powerful words can actually be. It is a very educational book for so many reasons I can't list them all on here.
Read this book. Make your kids read this book. They'll understand the world better for it, and they'll understand the power of words as well. And like me, after they read it, perhaps they'll continue thinking of it and the emotions it created.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking