Jen­nifer A. Nielsen

  • Review
By – October 8, 2018

Some of the best and most impor­tant books about the Holo­caust for young read­ers are those that empha­size the spir­it of resis­tance — the courage of those who took steps to fight back against the Nazi machine. The odds were heav­i­ly stacked against resisters, but their spir­its live on, and books that tell their sto­ries pro­vide role mod­els for the youth of today.

This fic­tion­al­iza­tion of the lit­tle-known resis­tance group Aki­va is a riv­et­ing read that will leave read­ers in awe of the ghet­to couri­ers and fight­ers it memo­ri­al­izes. The sto­ry is told from the per­spec­tive of a teenaged Pol­ish girl, Chaya Lind­ner, whose fam­i­ly mem­bers have all been round­ed up. Chaya couri­ers mes­sages and sup­plies into the ghet­tos, and even­tu­al­ly joins the famous resis­tance fight­ers of the War­saw ghet­to. She and the oth­er mem­bers of her group will inspire read­ers with their stead­fast deter­mi­na­tion and sin­gle-mind­ed purpose.

Resis­tance is dif­fi­cult to put down once begun. Read­ers will root for Chaya’s suc­cess as she encoun­ters ter­ri­fy­ing sit­u­a­tions that test even her iron resolve. Although not all of the char­ac­ters in the book are as ful­ly devel­oped as Chaya and her pri­ma­ry com­pan­ion, Esther, Nielsen makes his­to­ry come alive; the action on the streets of the Pol­ish ghet­tos seems imme­di­ate and graphic.

An after­word pro­vides some infor­ma­tion about the real resis­tance groups of the time, though addi­tion­al, back­ground infor­ma­tion about the Holo­caust would have pro­vid­ed help­ful con­text. This book is a good choice for both indi­vid­ual read­ers and class­rooms, and stands out in the sea of Holo­caust lit­er­a­ture avail­able today.

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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