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by Linda Newbery

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When Hilly’s grandmother becomes ill with Alzheimer’s disease, her family is turned upside down by revelations from her life during World War II.

Hilly’s German grandmother, HeidiGran, comes to live with her family after she gets Alzheimer’s disease. As her mind becomes more muddled, secrets buried in her past start to emerge. Why does


When Hilly’s grandmother becomes ill with Alzheimer’s disease, her family is turned upside down by revelations from her life during World War II.

Hilly’s German grandmother, HeidiGran, comes to live with her family after she gets Alzheimer’s disease. As her mind becomes more muddled, secrets buried in her past start to emerge. Why does HeidiGran keep talking about a girl named Rachel? And why does she make racist remarks about Hilly’s friend, Ruben? As Hilly struggles to cope with revelations about her family’s past, she encounters racism and prejudice for herself when a friend becomes the victim of a mindless attack.

This evocative and deftly told novel explores prejudice and its effects on multiple generations in one family.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Hilly's grandmother comes to live with her family, Hilly must come to terms with such big topics as disease, racism, adultery and the lasting effects of WWII. "The sheer abundance of plots and subplots keeps the pages turning," wrote PW. Ages 12-up. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Hilly's family is retracing her parents' honeymoon journey when Hilly and her dad visit a concentration camp in Alsace. Then Hilly is visited, and revisited, by a nightmare of being trapped inside a camp and a series of stress migraines as her family adjusts to living with a grandmother with Alzheimers disease. The grandmother, Heidigran, flashes back to early childhood memories, confusing Hilly with a mysterious Rachel. Meanwhile, Hilly discovers what being in "Lurve" means and how it will change her life. Wonderful characters include a wild younger sister Zoe, to whom everything comes easy, an empathic mom who struggles to balance everyone's needs in the family, and a flawed Dad, as well as Hilly's best friend, Reuben, who's madly in "Lurve" with a Palestinian boy, Saeed. When Hilly falls for Saeed's older brother, Rashid, Reuben is first jealous, then sympathetic. When Hilly discovers that she is Jewish and decides to visit her extended Jewish family in Israel, Rashid is appalled. Hilly's journey of discovery and growth, the family's care for a demented grandmother, the discovery of disturbing family secrets, and the evolution of friendship and first love make for a fascinating read. This beautifully crafted book is set between letters to Rashid as Hilary is en route to Israel. 2004, David Fickling Books/Random House Books, Ages 12 up.
—Elisabeth Greenberg
This is a lengthy story, for a YA novel, and it is a complex family situation. Hilly's life changes when her mother's mother, known to the family as Heidigran, comes to live with them, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The liberal family is horrified at Heidigran's anti-Semitic comments. Eventually the true history of Heidigran's past unfolds: Heidigran once was a Jewish child named Sarah. She was brought to England from Germany during the Holocaust, selected for kindertransport, and raised in England by loving foster parents. She repressed her memory of her Jewish family in Germany. Now, her grandaughter Hilly's playing of Fur Elise on the piano brings back a memory of a sister, long ago in Germany, playing just that song. Eventually, Hilly and her parents are able to piece together the true family history and they make contact with a relative they never knew existed—the sister who played the piano in Germany so long ago, a survivor of the concentration camps who now lives in Israel. Another part of the story is Hilly's lifelong friendship with Reuben, a gifted student and nice guy. Reuben is discovering that he is gay, and he has fallen in love—with a young man whose family is Palestinian. Now, there is a dilemma, especially since Reuben is Jewish. Hilly is happy for Reuben, but also feels somewhat left out and envious, until she starts a relationship with the brother of Reuben's boyfriend. Then there is Hilly's sister Zoe, who walks on the wild side and has befriended some thugs who are skinhead, neo-Nazi types. All in all, this is a long story that takes a while to unravel and understand. It will appeal to YAs who like stories about uncovering family secrets,edgy romances, and smart, thoughtful young people trying to make sense of their world. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2004, Random House, David Fickling Books, 370p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
When grandmother Heidigran comes to live with the Craig family, Hilly's life is turned upside down in more ways than she could ever imagine. As Alzheimer's disease begins to ravage Heidigran's mind, snapshots of memories emerge. Is her mind just wandering, or is she remembering a hidden past? Who is the strange girl Rachel? Why does Heidigran say hateful things to Hilly's friend Reuben? Why is she so fearful of the police? When Hilly finds a photograph of a mysterious girl, she stumbles onto the hidden history of her family. As a member of the Kindertransport, the mass relocation of young Jewish children, Heidigran left Germany for a new life in England, leaving behind her beloved older sister and their parents as well as her own Jewish identity. Repressed for decades, the images of her childhood are mixing into the muddle that Alzheimer's is now causing. What could be an emotionally charged, moving novel of suppressed family history is overfilled with too many fragments and subplots. The addition of British slang and expressions to the issues of racism, Alzheimer's disease, parental infidelity, homosexuality, hate crimes, sexual awakening, teen pregnancy, the neo-Nazi movement, and Palestinian-Israeli relations leaves the reader with too many themes and uncommon words to be effective. This flaw, however, might spark the motivated reader to seek out other novels about the Kindertransport. VOYA Codes: 2Q 3P J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Random House, 384p., and PLB Ages 12 to 18.
—Marian Rafal
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Hilly, an English teenager, has a lot to contend with in this lengthy novel. Heidigran, her senile grandmother, has come to live with her family; her friend Reuben has become involved in a relationship and she is jealous; and she discovers that her father has had an extramarital affair and that her younger sister Zo' is having a fling with a skinhead. Then the plot thickens. Heidigran is increasingly confused about her own identity and that of others in the household. Reuben's Palestinian boyfriend, Saeed, is badly beaten in a bias incident and Hilly is afraid that her sister's friends are at fault. Next, Hilly meets Saeed's brother, and falls in love with him, but when her family realizes that Heidigran has been repressing all memories that she was a Jewish child who came to England in the Kindertransports from Nazi Germany, Hilly's newly revealed ethnic background threatens to sabotage the budding relationship. All this and more is presented in a text that flips around in time, fluctuating from Hilly's point of view to her grandmother's and back again. Such a combination of complex issues is undeniably ambitious. Themes of fidelity to family, religion, marriage, sexual orientation, country, friends, and lovers are all touched upon. Unfortunately, many of the plot elements get short shrift and the book as a whole seems to sink under its own weight.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Newbery smoothly weaves together past and present in two distinct, gripping storylines that eventually merge. Seventeen-year-old Hilly's grandmother, Heidigran, has Alzheimer's and moves in with Hilly's family. Sometimes the third-person-limited narration is from Heidigran's perspective as her consciousness slides between present and past. Often the viewpoint is Hilly's, baffled by snippets of detail that Heidigran insists upon, but that make no sense to anyone else. A young Jewish girl named Sarah leaves 1939 Germany by Kindertransport; how does this relate to Heidigran, who came to England from Germany after the war? Who is the "Rachel" whom Heidigran keeps mentioning? Relationships between two sets of sisters are rocky; old secrets surface throughout the family, touched by anger and confusion. Hilly's budding romance with an Arab Palestinian named Rashid and her friend Reuben's romance with Rashid's brother Saeed bring new confrontations with racism, homophobia, and violence. Things lost to the Holocaust, even identities, can't always be reclaimed-but Hilly can try. Gracefully character-driven and humane. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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2 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

As a child Linda Newbery was a secret writer, filling exercise books with stories which she hid in her wardrobe. Now she is a published author of over forty books, mainly children's and teenage fiction. She has been shortlisted for many prestigious literary prizes and has won the Costa children's book award.
Linda lives in an Oxfordshire village and enjoys yoga, gardening, walking and the cinema.

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Best book i read