What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Lily Pond continues the story of Stephie and Nellie, characters that author Annika Thor introduced in her novel A Faraway Island. To protect their daughters from the dangers and poor living conditions for Jews in Austria during World War II, the girls' parents have sent them to live in Sweden with foster parents. The book informs readers about the deteriorating situation in Austria through letters from Stephie's parents. In Sweden, Stephie also encounters adults who sympathize with the Nazis, and must navigate some challenging interactions with authority figures as a result. Parents may wish to explain some things about World War II and anti-Semitism. Also, the girls' foster parents are Pentecostal Christians, whose code of behavior is extremely strict: For example, they believe that attending concerts or seeing movies is sinful, and this might be confusing to readers unfamiliar with such beliefs. Stephie also develops a crush on a boy she's friends with, and believes she's in love, which could warrant some family discussion, as the novel is written at a fourth-grade reading level.
What's the story?
Stephie and her sister Nellie's parents have sent their daughters away from their home in Nazi-occupied Vienna to live with foster parents on an island off the coast of Sweden. Stephie, who is 13, has just completed the equivalent of elementary school, and her foster parents have arranged for her to go to grammar school (high school) in Goteborg on the mainland, where she will rent a room from acquaintances. In Goteborg, Stephanie falls in love for the first time and she makes close friends, but she also struggles with anti-Semitism, peer pressure, and concern for her parents back home in Vienna.
Is it any good?
THE LILY POND is a very nice, age-appropriate book about World War II for middle graders. Because the hardships Stephie's parents endure in Vienna are related by her parents, they're tempered in just the way a parent would break news to a child. Stephie is an intelligent, sensitive character with a rich inner world, and any preteen who's felt like a fish out of water will relate to her feelings of insecurity and longing for her parents.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what Stephie's life is like away from her parents. Do you think her mom and dad did the right thing by sending Stephie and Nellie to Sweden?
What do you think about the way Sven's parents treat Stephie, and why do you think it makes her so angry?
Why does Stephie keep Alice's secrets? What would you do if you were in her situation?