This suspenseful novel is based on a true story of a teenage spy during WWII. Suzanne David is 13 when the war invades her life suddenly and violently in May of 1940. From the opening chapter, the book moves at a rapid pace and readers are given a unique perspective on life in occupied France. From rationing to being thrown out of her house with 30 minutes notice, Suzanne's life turns upside down. The hardships of war that citizens of an occupied country suffer is a topical theme. Suzanne continues to train as a singer during the war, and her unusual occupationa singer traveling to opera houses around Franceattracts the attention of Dr. Leclerc. Her family physician is actually a head spy with the resistance, and he recruits Suzanne to carry messages. She does, and manages to survive her experience despite many hair-raising moments. (Literally, as her first hiding place for messages is in her hair.) The action will have readers on the edge through the tense conclusion, and the epilogue is not to be missed. It is a message from the real Suzanne David that includes an important reference which explains the title of the novel. 2003, Dell Laurel-Leaf/Random House, Ages 11 to 14.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2003: Bradley has written fiction based closely on the life of Suzanne David Hall, who shared her stories with the author. The novel begins in 1940 when Suzanne is 13 and it ends when the Allies liberate her town of Cherbourg, France in June 1944. Suzanne is studying to be an opera singer, and as soon as she finishes school when she is 15, she starts working in the local opera company, singing the leading roles. She naturally has a lot of appointments around town and in nearby towns, and her doctor recruits her as a spy, carrying messages in the midst of the Nazi occupation. She knows that if she is caught, she will be killed. The strength and discipline she needs for her career help her in the work as a spy. Details of her family life under the occupation, her singing career, the solace she finds in music during utmost stressthese details make the story a reality for the reader. Therefore, the fear she experiences working as a spy, the lies she must tell to her family and friends to cover her activities, and the suspense inherent in the story make this a thrilling reading experience. We are filled with admiration for Suzanne's strength and commitment. Frequent French expressions and details from the operas and their arias make this novel even more exotic for American YAs. The town of Cherbourg is laid out in the readers' mindsfrom the first scenes of Germans bombing the beach at the time of the British troops retreating in 1940 to the liberation of the town on D-Day. In an epilogue, we learn that Suzanne married an American soldier at the end of 1945 and emigrated to America, where she raised her family in Tennessee. Apowerful story. KLIATT Codes: JS*Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Random House, Dell Laurel-Leaf, 181p., Ages 12 to 18.
Gr 6-8-Life for Suzanne David, a 13-year-old French schoolgirl and music apprentice, dramatically changes in May, 1940, when she and her best friend witness the brutal death of a neighbor when a bomb drops directly in front of them. Soon the Germans take over Cherbourg, and the Davids are forced from their home into poverty. Then Suzanne is given the opportunity to help the Allies. Bravely, she risks her life, family, and singing career in order to spy for the Resistance. The pace of this suspenseful novel, told in first person and based on a true story, moves swiftly into action within the first chapter, showing the young heroine as strong, courageous, and clever. Filled, but not laden, with the events of the war, and peppered with French language and the culture of music, this novel will appeal to readers who enjoy history and espionage.-Kimberly Monaghan, Vernon Area Public Library, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Suzanne David’s father always said, "Obey the rules and no one gets hurt." But when their French town of Cherbourg is bombed, her neighbor is killed, the Nazis take over, and her family is turned out of their house, whose rules does she obey? When one of the few black families in Cherbourg disappears, Suzanne says to her Papa, "I thought Hitler only hated Jews. I didn’t know he hated black people too." "Now you do," he replies. It is this growing awareness, step by step, that leads to Suzanne’s involvement in the French Resistance, becoming number 22, and relaying messages essential to the planning of the D-Day invasion. Based on Bradley’s interviews with the real Suzanne, this is an exciting account of a girl’s coming of age in a scary time. The historical context is neatly woven into the story, so readers will learn about Dunkirk, the fall of Paris, Vichy France, Charles de Gaulle, and D-Day. A terrific companion to Gregory Maguire’s The Good Liar, but for an older audience. (Fiction. 10-14)
[STAR] "This taut, engrossing World War II novel instantly immerses readers,...[but] the real focus, however, is the skin-crawling suspense story about one of France's youngest spies. Each chapter brings new intrigue and often shocking revelations...resonat[ing] with authenticity, excitement, and heart."-Booklist, Starred
[STAR] "This suspenseful novel,...based on a true story, moves swiftly into action...Filled, but not laden, with the events of the war, and peppered with French language and the culture of music, this novel will appeal to readers who enjoy history and espionage."-SLJ
[STAR] "Based on Bradley’s interviews with the real Suzanne, this is an exciting account of a girl’s coming of age in a scary time. The historical context is neatly woven into the story."-Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"The action will have readers on the edge through the tense conclusion, and the epilogue is not to be missed."-The Bulletin
"A highly compelling look at the covert battle for freedom."-Publishers Weekly
An IRA Teachers' Choice
An ALA Amelia Bloomer Selection
A VOYA Top Shelf Fiction Selection
A New York Public Library Book Pick
A Bank Street College Best Book of the Year