My Fam­i­ly for the War

Anne C. Voorho­eve; Tami Reichel, trans.
  • Review
By – February 26, 2013

My Fam­i­ly for the War is the cap­ti­vat­ing sto­ry of ten-year-old Franziska, a Protes­tant-raised girl with Jew­ish ances­tors caught in Ger­many dur­ing Hitler’s rise to pow­er. As restric­tions tight­en around Ziska’s fam­i­ly, her par­ents feel they have no choice but to send her out of Ger­many on the Kinder­tansport. Stuck in an Eng­lish orphan­age, Ziska final­ly finds a home with an Ortho­dox Jew­ish fam­i­ly. Ziska, now called Frances, strug­gles to adjust to a very dif­fer­ent life style. Adored by her new broth­er and father, Frances finds the moth­er, Aman­da, quite cold. Aman­da, how­ev­er, is respond­ing to Frances, whose thoughts are con­sumed with find­ing a way to bring her real fam­i­ly’ out of Ger­many to join them in Eng­land. It is the slow jour­ney made by both Frances and Aman­da toward under­stand­ing and even­tu­al­ly lov­ing each oth­er that will cap­ture any­one who reads this story.

My Fam­i­ly for the War is also the sto­ry of a coun­try sucked into a war from which it believes itself to be safe. As this safe­ty net dis­solves, Frances’ fam­i­ly and friends come to cope with and accept the war that even­tu­al­ly envelops them. It is an excel­lent look at World War II. Voorho­eve does­n’t pull her punch­es — she includes food rationing, bomb­ings and even touch­es on the tragedy a war brings. When Frances is sent to an intern­ment camp for Ger­man cit­i­zens, read­ers see the many sides of injus­tice imposed by a coun­try in tur­moil. Yet all of this is han­dled in a gen­tle man­ner with a mid­dle grade audi­ence in mind.

The sto­ry is riv­et­ing and I spent many late nights read­ing chap­ter after chap­ter. It will hold the inter­est of young read­ers ages ten and up. It is an excel­lent intro­duc­tion to the war and to the sit­u­a­tion faced by Jew­ish chil­dren sent away by des­per­ate par­ents. It includes themes of inter­est to all chil­dren: strug­gling to find one’s own iden­ti­ty, fam­i­ly, and grow­ing up in a world that does­n’t always play fair­ly. It’s a great read and high­ly recommended.

Mar­cia Ber­neger is a retired teacher who lives with her hus­band and three crazy dogs. She taught both first and sec­ond grade, as well as spe­cial edu­ca­tion. She cur­rent­ly teach­es Torah school, in addi­tion to her vol­un­teer work in class­rooms, libraries, and with var­i­ous fundrais­ers. She lives in San Diego.

Discussion Questions