Lil­li’s Quest

Lila Perl
  • Review
By – July 14, 2016

In a com­pan­ion book to last year’s Isabel’s War, this sto­ry is told from the per­spec­tive of Ger­man Lil­li. Lila Perl draws a pic­ture of the life of a young half-Jew­ish girl, uproot­ed from a com­fort­able Ger­man home, sent on a Kinder­trans­port to what turns out to be a rough expe­ri­ence in Eng­land, and then on to an uncer­tain and shaky start but an ulti­mate­ly bet­ter future in the Unit­ed States.

This is a com­ing-of-age sto­ry and a self-iden­ti­ty dis­cov­ery tale set against the back­drop of Nazi Ger­many, World War II Eng­land and New York. Lil­li’s jour­ney through real dan­ger and the per­ils of grow­ing up will pro­vide a grip­ping read­ing expe­ri­ence and her jour­ney back to Europe to search for her fam­i­ly at the end of the war is poignant and an all-too-famil­iar post-war sto­ry. Her even­tu­al reuni­fi­ca­tion with her sis­ter is nuanced, as well. It is nei­ther unre­al­is­ti­cal­ly sweet and touch­ing, nor is it heart­break­ing­ly sad; it falls into a real-life gray area hard to encap­su­late, as many true sto­ries do, as well.

Writ­ten short­ly before this not­ed author’s death, and able to be read inde­pen­dent­ly of the com­pan­ion book men­tioned above, this book is rec­om­mend­ed for ages 12 – 16.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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