Home Num­ber One: A Graph­ic Novel

Mar­i­on Baraitser; Anna Evans
  • Review
By – June 15, 2012
Dinah is a bored Jew­ish girl liv­ing in the repressed city of Utopia in the imag­ined Amer­i­ca of 2020. She voic­es her bore­dom to her com­put­er and is sent on a life-chang­ing jour­ney to 1943, where she joins her dis­tant cousin Gon­da and two friends in There­sien­stadt. Though their sur­vival depends on com­pli­ance with the Nazis, the teenagers secret­ly rebel against the guards by find­ing pup­pets that had been con­fis­cat­ed. They plan to use the pup­pets to reveal the truth to Red Cross inspec­tors, but when they are dis­cov­ered the two boys are sent away, pre­sum­ably to Auschwitz. Dinah and Gon­da remain in Thereisen­stadt until the end of the war when they are res­cued. The book ends with Gon­da return­ing to fam­i­ly in Prague, while Dinah returns to the future. As she flies” home, Dinah recounts the lessons she was taught: I had been giv­en the chance to grow up, even though at great cost…I had dis­cov­ered the nature of love, of death and how to make some­thing out of noth­ing. I final­ly real­ized I had learned that only free­dom and kind­ness mat­tered…”. Despite a few typos, a some­what dis­con­nect­ed sto­ry line, and draw­ings that look hur­ried and unfin­ished, this graph­ic nov­el offers a unique way for teen read­ers to explore the Holo­caust. The sto­ry line is sim­i­lar to Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arith­metic, in which a mod­ern-day pro­tag­o­nist is pro­pelled back in time to expe­ri­ence the Holo­caust. Old­er teens who are inter­est­ed in graph­ic nov­els should be direct­ed to the mas­ter­ful Maus vol­umes by Art Spiegel­man. Ages 13 – 17

Wendy Was­man is the librar­i­an & archivist at the Cleve­land Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry in Cleve­land, Ohio.

Discussion Questions