Nadia is haunted by World War II. Her memories of the war are messy, coming back to her in pieces and flashes she can’t control. Though her adoptive mother says they are safe now, Nadia’s flashbacks keep coming.
Sometimes she remembers running, hunger, and isolation. But other times she remembers living with a German family, and attending big rallies where she was praised for her light hair and blue eyes. The puzzle pieces don’t quite fit together, and Nadia is scared by what might be true. Could she have been raised by Nazis? Were they her real family? What part did she play in the war?
What Nadia finally discovers about her own history will shock her. But only when she understands the past can she truly face her future.
Inspired by startling true events, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch delivers a gripping and poignant story of one girl’s determination to uncover her truth.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Harsh realities of war, Antisemitism
Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 5-8. After the conclusion of WWII in Europe, Nadia and her adoptive parents arrive in Canada for a new life. Despite being in a new country, Nadia is haunted by memories that reveal glimpses of her life before the war. She remembers being hungry and running to escape something, yet she also remembers living with a German family and being praised for her Aryan complexion. Confused by these memories, Nadia fears the truths that they may hold as she tries to adapt to a world where she can live without fear. Skrypuch’s latest novel is a companion to Making Bombs for Hitler (2017). Filled with historical detail, it highlights a forgotten and horrifying aspect of WWII where children were stolen from various parts of Europe by the Nazis in order to build a master race. Because of the flashbacks, readers are provided with glimpses into the horrors of Nadia’s past but can perceive themes of discovery and healing. A fascinating, compelling read.
Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2018)
A 12-year-old Ukrainian girl arrives in Canada after World War II and struggles to make sense of her jumbled memories of battle-scarred Germany. After five years in a displaced persons camp, Nadia Kravchuk arrives in Brantford, Ontario, accompanied by her adoptive mother, Marusia. When Nadia’s fellow classmates are convinced by her blonde hair and blue eyes that she is a Nazi, Marusia repeatedly assures Nadia that’s not the case. Eventually, Nadia safely relives her trauma in order to solve the puzzle of who she really is—not Nadia Kravchuk nor Gretchen Himmel, the German identity she assumed to survive, but someone else entirely…Larissa, the younger sister of Lida, the protagonist of Skrypuch’s Making Bombs for Hitler (2016). The author once again deftly sheds light on lesser-known aspects of the Ukrainian experience during WWII. Via flashbacks and nightmares, she gradually fleshes out Nadia’s painful history of abduction from her original family and subsequent placement in a German household. As further explained in the author’s note, this was part of the Lebensborn program, an effort to identify and mark blond and blue-eyed Ukrainian children as Aryans and force them to live with Nazi families in order to augment the building of a master race. A gripping exploration of war-induced trauma, identity, and transformation. (author’s note)(Historical fiction. 8-12)
About the Author
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is the acclaimed author of 20+ books for young people including her popular WWII Making Bombs for Hitler novel trilogy and her non-fiction like Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival.
Marsha is dyslexic and didn’t learn to read until she was 9. The first book that she read and understood was Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and reading that book over the course of a year when she was in grade 4 for the second time was a life-transforming experience. It taught her that reading wasn’t just a subject in school, but an immersive pleasure. By grade 8 she had read all of the big fat novels in the children’s department of the Brantford Public Library whose authors’ last names started with either A, B, C or D. By grade 9 she had figured out better ways to choose books.
Marsha now considers dyslexia to be a gift that helps her write the kinds of books that she does — about people plunged in war whose stories haven’t been told before and from perspectives rarely seen in children’s literature. Marsha has deep respect for the intelligence and compassion of her young readers and she writes the books she wishes she could have found to read when she was a kid.
Marsha loves speaking with students of all ages, especially those who are struggling academically or who feel “different”.
Her website is www.calla.com
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