Bjorn’s Gift

Sandy Brehl
  • Review
By – October 27, 2017

Bjorn’s Gift by Sandy Brehl | Jew­ish Book Coun­cil

Grow­ing up is hard enough with­out the weight of war. By August 1941, Mari has been liv­ing in Nazi-occu­pied Nor­way for over a year but she’s far from for­got­ten the hap­pi­er times before her sib­lings left home and the unwant­ed sol­diers began arriving.

Set in the small vil­lage of Ytre Arne dur­ing World War II, this sequel to Odin’s Promise explores how Mari and those around her must either adjust to the New Nor­way or rebel at great risk. And not every­one is of like mind on how best to survive.

When her class­mate, Leif, joins the Unghird (Nazi youth corps), Mari cre­ates dis­tance between them, but strug­gles to inter­pret his motives when Leif repeat­ed­ly tries to regain her friend­ship and ques­tions Mari’s choices.

Is it child­ish to stick to ideals rather than make the best of things, as Leif has done? Is it wish­ful think­ing, or war­rant­ed hope, to believe that the occu­pa­tion will soon end? I won­der what becom­ing a teenag­er feels like when there’s not a war going on,” Mari thinks, and grap­ples to under­stand her place by tak­ing on respon­si­bil­i­ties for which she is not sure she’s ready, but which she is cer­tain are needed.

A soft-spo­ken yet mov­ing depic­tion of life under siege, Bjorn’s Gift offers a less­er-told nar­ra­tive of the Nazi era that opens the read­er to anoth­er his­to­ry and rich cul­ture that faced the threat of extinc­tion. For as Mari her­self explains: Every voice must be heard when Nor­way is final­ly ours again.”

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 9 to 13.

Shi­ra Schin­del is the Direc­tor of Busi­ness Devel­op­ment & Author Engage­ment at Litographs and for­mer­ly the head of Con­tent and Acqui­si­tions at Qlovi, an edu­ca­tion tech­nol­o­gy start­up accel­er­at­ing lit­er­a­cy in K‑12 class­rooms. Before that she worked in the lit­er­ary depart­ment at ICM Part­ners, and stud­ied Cre­ative Writ­ing at Colum­bia University.

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