Thursday 23 April 2015

My Holocaust Story: Hanna

My Holocaust Story: Hanna by Goldie Alexander (Scholastic)
PB RRP $16.99                                                                                                        
ISBN 9781743629673

Reviewed by Hazel Edwards

Tragic but historic WW11 circumstances are a special challenge for authors and for readers, especially those books with the word Holocaust in the title. But Hanna's story has the feisty spirit of a young girl gymnast who courageously balances war-time deprivations with her Jewish family in the Warsaw ghetto and still helps others.

What gives this story the edge is the compassion and pacing, which does not make it overwhelming for the reader. It is extremely well researched and clearly evokes place and time showing, for example, the starving food smuggler gangs of children via the sewers, the secret schools in the ghetto and the random cruelties and kindnesses.

History has not been sanitised here and yet there is compassion for all caught on both sides, even the starving peasants who betray others. And, too, there's hope. Locals prepare to hide children and refugees. Readers are left with the question of how they might have acted in similar circumstances.

This is a highly significant novel and one I'd recommend for readers aged 12 years and upwards. It is also an excellent book to set for class discussions.

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