My Side of the Sto­ry: Escape from War

James Rior­dan
  • Review
By – August 6, 2012
This mul­ti-per­spec­tive tale tells of the expe­ri­ences of two young peo­ple, Frank and Han­nah, dur­ing World War II. Read­ers are urged to read Frank’s side of the sto­ry first. He is an Eng­lish boy from London’s East End who expe­ri­ences the Blitz dur­ing World War II as an adven­ture until some of his friends are killed and he sees the full extent of the dev­as­ta­tion. When Frank and his younger sis­ter, Vi, are evac­u­at­ed to a farm, they meet Han­nah, a Ger­man-Jew­ish refugee. Hannah’s side of the sto­ry, which is read by flip­ping the book over, is intend­ed to be a coun­ter­point to Frank’s because her wartime expe­ri­ences in Nazi Ger­many have been so much more awful. He is Eng­lish, patri­ot­ic, and all but igno­rant of Jews. Han­nah is a Kinder­trans­port refugee and sus­pect­ed of being a Ger­man spy because of her ori­gins and accent. Only an under­stand­ing teacher ful­ly real­izes Hannah’s plight, and she caus­es the oth­er chil­dren in class to empathize with her. Each of the sto­ries ends abrupt­ly so nei­ther is par­tic­u­lar­ly sat­is­fy­ing: at the end of Frank’s sto­ry, Han­nah is arrest­ed as a spy and at the end of Hannah’s sto­ry, she is released. Although we know that both of their fathers have been killed, we are left won­der­ing about both Frank and Han­nah as the war moves on and final­ly ends. An addi­tion­al pur­chase for ages 10 – 12.
Lin­da R. Sil­ver is a spe­cial­ist in Jew­ish children’s lit­er­a­ture. She is edi­tor of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries’ Jew­ish Val­ues­find­er, www​.ajl​jew​ish​val​ues​.org, and author of Best Jew­ish Books for Chil­dren and Teens: A JPS Guide (The Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety, 2010) and The Jew­ish Val­ues Find­er: A Guide to Val­ues in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture (Neal-Schu­man, 2008).

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