T4: A Nov­el in Verse

Ann Clare Lezotte
  • Review
By – January 19, 2012
In 1939, thir­teen-year-old Paula Beck­er is a viva­cious girl grow­ing up in a small Ger­man town with­in a lov­ing fam­i­ly. She enjoys cook­ing with her mom, play­ing with her younger sis­ter, and teas­ing her dog. Short­ly after her birth, her moth­er was exposed to rubel­la and as a result, Paula has become deaf. Deter­mined to fit in, Paula has devised her own method of hand sig­nals which her neigh­bors and friends have grown accus­tomed to and she is treat­ed like every­one else. When the Nazi gov­ern­ment ini­ti­ates Action T4, a pro­gram which dic­tates that doc­tors euth­a­nize the men­tal­ly ill and the dis­abled, Paula real­izes she is marked by her impair­ment and fears for her life. With the help of Father Josef, she is tak­en to the coun­try and hid­den in the home of a retired school teacher who teach­es Paula how to sign. When the Gestapo invades the farm, Paula is forced to flee again and is hid­den in a home­less shel­ter of a church where she becomes friends with a young Gyp­sy boy, who becomes her pro­tec­tor and after the war, she lat­er mar­ries. Told in lyri­cal, free verse, this is a pow­er­ful and mov­ing account of one young girl’s deter­mi­na­tion to sur­vive dur­ing the hor­rif­ic Nazi regime in Ger­many. The title,T4, derived after the address, Tier­garten­strasse 4 , which head­quar­tered the infa­mous orga­ni­za­tion of this gov­ern­ment pro­gram, skill­ful­ly weaves togeth­er his­tor­i­cal fact and ele­gant prose to give the read­er insight into the injus­tices of the Nazis dur­ing World War II. This short yet stir­ring read accom­pa­nied by addi­tion­al notes at the back of the book would be a rich addi­tion to any Holo­caust study unit. Rec­om­mend­ed for 12 and up.
Debra Gold has been a children’s librar­i­an for over 20 years in the Cuya­hoga Coun­ty Pub­lic Library Sys­tem. An active mem­ber of the ALA, she has served on many com­mit­tees includ­ing the Calde­cott, New­bery and Batchelder committees.

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