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KLIATTWhen Eleanor Ramrath was two, during the Great Depression, she and her brother were sent from America to live with their German grandparents. Their father had lost his job as an engineer and the parents were economically unable to care for their children. Four years later the children sailed back across the ocean and were united with their mother and father. The family economy was still precarious, and in 1938, when Mr. Ramrath was offered a two-year appointment with a prestigious German engineering firm he accepted, in spite of the serious warnings from his fellow German immigrants about the course of the German state. Four days into the voyage Germany invaded Poland, and the fate of the family was sealed. They settled in Berlin, an exciting and wealthy city; the family entered into the cultural and social life with appreciation. Eleanor and brother Frank joined the Hitler Youth. The children were barely aware of the worry of their parents as Germany invaded France and occupied Paris. When the retaliatory raids from the British began, the elder Ramraths made plans to return to the United States. In the spring of 1941 Eleanor, her brother and father were granted exit visas, as were all US citizens. Mrs. Ramrath was denied a visa as she had never taken out US citizenship. The three refused to leave without the mother. Over the course of the war two more children were born. The older children were from time to time again sent to live with their grandparents for safety's sake. Friendships were cemented amidst horror and destruction. The family was careful to keep its political sympathies to themselves. The Ramraths were together when the Russians entered Berlin. Edith's description of a cityunder siege is all the more poignant because of the peculiar situation the family was in. They hoped that the Americans would liberate their part of the city but that was not to be. Some Russians set up a communication unit in the Ramrath apartment and they were relieved because this would afford them some protection from the marauding soldiers. Starving, they coached the little brother to beg the Russians for bread. Frank became one of the many teenagers operating in the black market. Edith's dream of quick return to the US and life in the quiet New Jersey town she had left as a little girl was not realized. It was not until the summer of 1946 that the two older children and the father returned to America. They were not to see the other members of the family until the next summer when all were united in Boston. They had been gone nine years. The author is especially adept at describing the common adolescent emotions that surface even in the most complicated of times. The book has won many awards, including the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award and Teacher's Choice Book Award. KLIATT Codes: SA*-Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Peachtree, 269p., Ages 15 to adult.
— Penelope Power