400p. Scholastic. Aug. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338148473.
Gr 5–8—The author of A Night Divided opens a doorway in time to Nazi-occupied World War II Poland, quickly immersing readers in the perilous life of 16-year-old Chaya, a courier for the Jewish resistance. Her missions slipping in and out of Jewish ghettos and raiding Nazi storehouses are hazardous enough without the inexperience of new recruit Esther adding to the risk and testing Chaya's patience. The girls become uneasy partners on new missions when the two are the last surviving members of their resistance cell. Readers will empathize with Chaya, who burns with anger against their occupiers and questions those who won't fight back. But it's complex Esther who will linger in kids' minds. Nielsen uses this character to great effect, helping Chaya understand that violence is just one way to resist and that "a righteous resistance was victory in itself, no matter the outcome." Tension escalates as details of Esther's backstory are withheld until pivotal moments. The edge-of-your-seat climax places readers amidst the gritty, horrifying street battles of the Warsaw Ghetto and pays tribute to those who sacrificed themselves so others would live. A fascinating afterword profiles real-life resistance fighters the fictional teens encounter throughout.
VERDICT Historical fiction at its finest, this informs, enlightens, and engages young readers. A first purchase.
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