My Family for the War

My Family for the War

5.0 2
by Anne C. Voorhoeve
     
 

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Winner of the Mildred L. Batchelder medal for most oustanding children's book in translation.

Escaping Nazi Germany on the kindertransport changes one girl's life forever

At the start of World War II, ten-year-old Franziska Mangold is torn from her family when she boards the kindertransport in Berlin, the train that secretly took nearly 10,000 children

Overview

Winner of the Mildred L. Batchelder medal for most oustanding children's book in translation.

Escaping Nazi Germany on the kindertransport changes one girl's life forever

At the start of World War II, ten-year-old Franziska Mangold is torn from her family when she boards the kindertransport in Berlin, the train that secretly took nearly 10,000 children out of Nazi territory to safety in England. Taken in by strangers who soon become more like family than her real parents, Frances (as she is now known) courageously pieces together a new life for herself because she doesn't know when or if she'll see her true family again. Against the backdrop of war-torn London, Frances struggles with questions of identity, family, and love, and these experiences shape her into a dauntless, charming young woman.

Originally published in Germany, Anne Voorhoeve's award-winning novel is filled with humor, danger, and romance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This multilayered story, first published in Germany, spotlights the "Kindertransport" of Jewish children to London during WWII. Narrated in memoir style by a charming heroine, Ziska, the novel spans from her 11th birthday to her 19th. The narrative also serves as a thorough introduction to Judaism, as the protagonist—who is not actually Jewish but labeled as such in Berlin because of her Jewish ancestors—joins an Orthodox family in London. Given a new name upon her adoption, she recalls, "I had arrived. I was no longer Ziska. From now on I was Frances, and would never want to be anyone else again." Voorhoeve cogently explores themes of motherhood and adoptive families, conveying the girl's complicated relationship with her narcissistic, unstable birth mother and her growing closeness to her loving adoptive one. Frances's friendship and attraction to her adoptive brother Gary is gracefully portrayed, while the devastating cost of the war is tempered by the words of Ziska's professor friend who tells her, "Live!... And live well! That is the only thing you can do for them." Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers

Kids' Indie Next List, Spring 2012
starred review Booklist

* "With the personal Kindertransport history, the intense drama about family, faith, guilt, love, and loyalty in wartime makes this an important addition to the Holocaust curriculum."
ALSC

A 2013 ALSC Notable Children's Book
Booklist
* "With the personal Kindertransport history, the intense drama about family, faith, guilt, love, and loyalty in wartime makes this an important addition to the Holocaust curriculum."
Library Media Connection review

"This is a solid addition to Holocaust collections, life on the home front during the war, and for discussions of what is a family."
From the Publisher
A 2013 ALSC Notable Children's Book — ALSC

Kids' Indie Next List, Spring 2012 — Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers

* "With the personal Kindertransport history, the intense drama about family, faith, guilt, love, and loyalty in wartime makes this an important addition to the Holocaust curriculum."  — Booklist, starred review

* "Events and facts are expertly woven into the girl's emotional growth, and changing relationships . . . provide a rich exploration of identity and self. With a compelling main character and taut and insightful story line, this novel is sure to find no shortage of readers, and it adds a valuable perspective to collections of World War II fiction." — School Library Journal, starred review

"[An] engaging and often moving coming-of-age story. A poignant, thoughtful work." — Kirkus

"This multilayered story [which] cogently explores themes of motherhood and adoptive families is gracefully portrayed." — Publishers Weekly

"My Family for the War is a must-have for young adults. The novel is simultaneously beautiful, touching, and heart wrenching." — VOYA

"This is a solid addition to Holocaust collections, life on the home front during the war, and for discussions of what is a family." — Library Media Connection review

Children's Literature - Kris Sauer
Franziska's world is quickly being torn apart. Declared a Jew by virtue of her great-grandparents, Christian Ziska finds herself in the horrible position of being a Jewish outcast in Hitler's Germany without even having the benefit of understanding the religion for which she is being persecuted. Sent to safety on a kindertransport, eleven-year-old Ziska finds herself ensconced with a Jewish family in Great Britain where everything from the food to the language to the culture is strange and different. Frances, as she is now known, finds ways to cope. She grows to love her adoptive family, while dealing with the separation from her parents who managed to escape to Holland. Strong characters abound, from her kindertransport colleague Walter to the kindly Professor Schueler who helps her in her quest to bring her parents to Great Britain. Given the setting, the story is bound to contain tragedy, from the death of loved ones to the continued uprooting of Frances as she is moved yet again, against her will, away from her adoptive family to yet another family in the countryside during the London blitz. Originally published in Germany, this book is a beautiful coming of age story during a time both heartbreaking and astounding. Frances finds strength in family, on her own terms. A likeable character, Frances' trials and tribulations will resonant with young readers despite her rather unusual circumstances. At 400 pages, this book might be a bit long for some readers, but for those who stick with it, this tale is highly recommended. Reviewer: Kris Sauer
VOYA - Erika Sogge
At the beginning of World War II, Franziska Mangold, a young Jewish girl, leaves the dangers of Berlin on a kindertransport to the safety of England. Franziska is apprehensive as she leaves behind her mother, father, and best friend. Yet when she eventually finds a foster family in England, her apprehension eases as she becomes a part of her British family. Becoming more and more entwined with her foster family, Franziska begins to question her relationships and the true definition of family. Although she is worried about her torn loyalties, she does not spend all of her time dwelling on family matters. She also forms important friendships and has the occasional adventure. My Family for the War is a must-have for young adults who like historical fiction and will be highly enjoyed by many other readers as well. The novel is simultaneously beautiful, touching, and heart wrenching. No background on World War II is needed to understand the events, which will make this book appealing to young adults. The lack of background knowledge needed may even make it a good introduction to the historical fiction novel for readers who have not yet sampled that genre. While originally published in German, the novel was adeptly translated into English. This book will hold broad appeal for junior high and high school students. Students will not likely abandon it after they have started because it engrosses readers quite quickly. Reviewer: Erika Sogge
Kirkus Reviews
When her father is arrested on November 9, 1938 (Kristallnacht), and sent to a concentration camp, 10-year-old Franziska Mangold, raised Protestant though of Jewish ancestry, gets a coveted spot on the Kindertransport, which carries her from Berlin to London, where she is taken in by a kind-hearted Orthodox Jewish family. Voorhoeve empathetically explores the effects of Ziska's abrupt separation from her home, family and best friend, Rebekka Liebich, with whom she roamed the neighborhood, in this engaging and often moving coming-of-age story, originally published in Germany. In England she has to adjust to a new language, culture, school, religion and family (Dr. and Mrs. Shepard and their 18-year-old son, Gary). She is even given a new name, Frances. Ziska's story is divided into three books: "Survival Plan 1938-1939," "Blackout 1939-1940," in which Frances is evacuated to the country when Germany invades Poland on September 1, 1939, and "Returning Home 1941-1945," in which there is tragedy, danger, romance, the end of the war and complicated reunions. Throughout, the author skillfully weaves in important aspects of the Kinder experience. Ziska tries desperately to find a sponsor for her parents, experiennces confusion over her identity and religious beliefs as she bonds with her adopted family, feels guilt for those left behind, especially Bekka. An ongoing thread about Jewish ritual and law, especially as it relates to fertility, contains some inaccuracies, which is regrettable, given the context. A glossary would have been helpful. Though occasionally convoluted, it is ultimately a poignant, thoughtful work. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In 1938 Berlin, 10-year-old Ziska and her best friend run from classmates-turned-bullies who torment them for being Jewish, even though Ziska's family converted in the last century and she knows nothing of the Jewish religion or culture. When her father is beaten during a brutal midnight raid on their apartment and imprisoned, Ziska earns a position on the kindertransport to England, where she begins a new life as Frances, foster daughter to an Orthodox London "family for the war." In an engaging, honest voice, she relates her fears, triumphs, and revelations as she learns English and the rituals of Judaism, adapts to a new life, and copes with guilt about her growing love for her new family. She tries in vain to acquire permits for her parents to join her while they keep up a soon spotty, strained correspondence that brings increasingly heartbreaking news of those left behind. By war's end, Frances, now 17, has experienced evacuation to the English countryside and another foster home, air raids, bomb shelters, and first love with page-turning immediacy despite the sense that the story is told by a much older, reflective Frances looking back. Events and facts are expertly woven into the girl's emotional growth, and changing relationships—especially those with her complex, fading mother and differently complex foster mother—provide a rich exploration of identity and self. Like Frances, the mostly Jewish cast of secondary characters is varied, multidimensional, and sometimes unlikable. With a compelling main character and taut and insightful story line, this novel is sure to find no shortage of readers, and it adds a valuable perspective to collections of World War II fiction.—Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803733602
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
02/16/2012
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.54(h) x 1.33(d)
Lexile:
900L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Winner of the Mildred L. Batchelder Award 
Won the Buxtehulde Bulle Prize for Youth Literature
Nominated for the Evangelischer Buchpreis (The Protestant Book Award)
An ALSC Notable Children's Book
Kids' Indie Next List

 

• "With the personal Kindertransport history, the intense drama about family, faith, guilt, love, and loyalty in wartime makes this an important addition to the Holocaust curriculum."
Booklist, starred review
 

• "Events and facts are expertly woven into the girl's emotional growth, and changing relationships . . . provide a rich exploration of identity and self. With a compelling main character and taut and insightful story line, this novel is sure to find no shortage of readers, and it adds a valuable perspective to collections of World War II fiction."
School Library Journal, starred review
 
"An engaging and often moving coming-of-age story. A poignant, thoughtful work."
Kirkus Reviews
 
"This multilayered story [which] cogently explores themes of motherhood and adoptive families is gracefully portrayed."
Publishers Weekly
 
"My Family for the War is a must-have for young adults. The novel is simultaneously beautiful, touching, and heart wrenching."
VOYA
 
"This is a solid addition to Holocaust collections, life on the home front during the war, and for discussions of what is a family."
LMC

Meet the Author

Anne C. Voorhoeve is an award-winning German novelist and screenwriter. She lives in Berlin, Germany.

Tammi Reichel is an instructor of German at the University of Richmond and lives with her family in Virginia.

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My Family for the War 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars Take a young Jewish girl in Berlin, add World War II and the Holocaust. I thought it was going to be an intensely tragic book, and instead it was fascinating, humorous in places, and uplifting, despite a generous sprinkling of fear and tragedy. Franziska, aged about 11, doesn’t even know she’s Jewish - her parents and grandparents, even, were all Christian. This doesn’t matter to the Nazis - her father is beaten, the family is terrorized, and her mother “abandons” her by getting Ziska put on one of the last kindertransport trains to leave the country. In London, she walks into her foster home, an Orthodox Jewish family, wearing a cross necklace. This is the beginning of much culture shock, as Frances slowly comes to adjust to, even love, her new family. While still worried about her family of origin, she and her new family are not safe either, as London becomes a major bombing target. Eventually Frances is uprooted yet again, sent to the countryside with other London children, to a foster home with a very different atmosphere. Ziska/Frances is a compelling, far from perfect character, but she loves, and she survives, not without some grief and laughter along the way. I highly recommend this book, for readers of all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a class assignment, and I adored it. Every event weaves so perfectly with the others, and in the end, you realize why each one happened. Even though it may be heartbreaking, this book deserves 10 stars out of 5.