If I Should Die Before I Wake

If I Should Die Before I Wake

4.6 104
by Han Nolan
     
 

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Hilary hates Jews. As part of a neo-Nazi gang in her town, she's finally found a sense of belonging. But when she's critically injured in an accident, everything changes.
Somehow, in her mind, she has become Chana, a Jewish girl fighting for her own life in the ghettos and concentration camps of World War II.
Han Nolan offers powerful insight into one young… See more details below

Overview

Hilary hates Jews. As part of a neo-Nazi gang in her town, she's finally found a sense of belonging. But when she's critically injured in an accident, everything changes.
Somehow, in her mind, she has become Chana, a Jewish girl fighting for her own life in the ghettos and concentration camps of World War II.
Han Nolan offers powerful insight into one young woman's survival through the Holocaust and another's journey out of hatred and self-loathing.
Reader's guide and an interview with the author included.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Can an alienated, Jew-hating, Neo-Nazi teenager have lived a previous life as a Polish Jewish girl in the Lodz ghetto during the Holocaust? Can a motorcycle accident which lands her comatose in a Jewish hospital be the vehicle for her tumbling through time repeatedly to relive that life while fighting for this one? Can her horrendous experiences of surviving but losing everything, including her family, and finally giving up her last food to another girl shake her out of the self-destructive life she has fashioned for herself here in the today world? This is an intriguing and touching story that weaves the terrible drama of the Nazis' destruction of an entire population together with the age-old belief in reincarnation and past lives. Originally published in 1994, it is now in its second soft cover edition and includes a "Chat Page" of questions to ponder as well as an interview with the author. An appealing and powerful story. 2003 (1994), Harcourt,
— Judy Chernak
The ALAN Review - Jeffrey S. Kaplan
As I write, Schindler's List plays nearby and Florida's governor has just signed a bill requiring the study of the Holocaust and the topic of genocide to become regular fixtures of the secondary-school curriculum. It is ironic that I am asked to review If I Die Before I Wake, the first-person-singular story of a Neo-Nazi skinhead who becomes transformed into a caring and loving human being. Knocked into a coma by a motorcycle accident, Hilary, the Neo-Nazi initiate, lands in a Jewish hospital, where, moving in and out of consciousness, she travels through her dreams to Poland at the onset of World War II. There, in her mind's eye, she becomes, of all people, Chana, a young Jewish girl whose family has been sent by the Nazis to live in a Jewish ghetto. In Chana's horrifying world, death is an everyday occurrence and the next stop for most of its residents is Auschwitz. This is a good read, perfect to accompany a discussion of Schindler's List, and invaluable as a resource to understanding the incomprehensible.
Mary Harris Veeder
High-school student Hilary Burke, whose rebellion against her fundamentalist Christian mother takes the form of hanging out with local neo-Nazis, lies unconscious in an intensive-care ward after a motorcycle accident. The other patient in the unit is an aged Holocaust survivor, Chana Bergman. Before returning to consciousness, Hilary slips into Chana's memory and travels back in time to the Lodz ghetto and Auschwitz. Chana's chapters dominate the text until the elderly woman dies and Hilary returns to life, no longer anti-Semitic. This first novel has great strengths and weaknesses. The time travel is contrived, the characterization of Hilary's mother is shallow and unbelievable, a hospital fire set by neo-Nazis is an unnecessary plot element, and the preachy message about the "new" Hilary changing the world is tabloid psychodrama. Chana's story, however, is brilliantly rendered. Without sensationalizing or blurring, Nolan evokes the physical and emotional crowding of shared living space, the desperate struggle for food each day, and the compromises required for survival. Despite the contrived machinery through which it's introduced, Chana's story carries memorable emotional impact.
From the Publisher

"Bold . . . deeply felt and often compelling."--Kirkus Reviews

"Brilliantly rendered."--Booklist

"Page-turning."--VOYA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547540634
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/01/2003
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
125,485
Lexile:
840L (what's this?)
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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