Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The last normal day for Isle Stern was when the boy she has had a crush on for forever, the boy next door, Hermann Rod, asked her to go to the movies with him, but then he never showed. Isle waited for over 2 hours to make sure she had the right movie time, but Hermann didn't show up at all. That day was the last normal day for Isle.
Because after that, the Germans came and took her father away. He was under arrest because he was Jewish. And this begins the very trying life that will happen for the next few years for Isle's family.
There are many different stories that are told throughout this novel including Isle, Hermann, Isle's older sister Sonja, Isle's neighbor Ole Rustard, and Isle's father Isak. Each character has a different story to tell, because they have been through completely different experiences during this terrible time in their life.
Isle ran out of her house mad at her mother the night that the policemen came to take the Jewish women and children away. She was left alone, not knowing where the rest of her family was, but knowing that the Germans were looking for her. Chance had her gone from the house that night, but was she really so lucky to be left in the dark when everyone she knew was in danger?
Hermann's family was safe, since they weren't Jewish, but Hermann was putting himself in danger - he was helping Jewish families escape to Sweden - the closest country that was neutral and a safe haven for the people who were being hunted. And he was trying to protect the girl who lived next door and who was always on his mind, even when he knew she shouldn't be.
Sonja was trying to get a better seamstress job to start her own life and career when everything happened. Then she was the one taking care of her family when she was traveling with the other Jews by boat and train, since her mother checked out when her father was arrested. She was in charge of her mother and her 5 year old sister Miriam, but was constantly worrying about Isle since she was missing.
Ole Rustad lived on the floor above the Sterns. He was also safe since he was Jewish, but he was put into a compromising situation: he was taking the Jewish families from point A to point B in a taxi. He didn't know where there were going or what was going to happen to them, but he knew that it wasn't good. But Ole Rustad needed the money because his wife and him are expecting another child by Christmas.
Isak has been trying to hide from his family the negative reaction his shop was getting because he is Jewish, but once he was arrested, he had a lot more important things to worry about. When he sees his family at the camp where all Jews were taken to, he became paranoid about what was going to happen to his family.
All of these characters have a different story to tell, and have to deal with terrible inner struggles during a terrible time in history. Marianne Kaurin created a novel that will be sure to bring emotion to all readers who pick up her novel.
I'm not much into historical fiction - especially about WWII or any war. I just can't relate well to these kinds of novels and it makes for a tough read for me. But one of my friends recommended me this novel and I wanted to try something different for me. Even though it took me a little longer than it should have for me to read this short book, I'm glad I did read it because it was very touching.
I can't even imagine going through a period like this. Seriously, thinking about what all of these people had to go through because they were Jewish is terrible and it makes me sad. Being able to get an idea of what each character went through sent chills through me, because all of it was horrifying, no matter if the character was Jewish or not.
The most chilling and saddest line of the book is this:
"Sonja catches sight of a sign hanging over the platform: Auschwitz. It means nothing to her." (page 222)
Since readers would know what the Auschwitz Camp was, we all know the fate of these Jewish people. And to know that they were just regular people trying to raise their family and live their lives, to go through that fate? It breaks my heart.
I gave this 3 stars because I found myself drifting from the book often. Maybe it was the subject rather than the novel, but I do tend to read books faster when there is dialogue, rather than large paragraphs like this book.
I did enjoy this novel. I think Marianne Kaurin did a fantastic job with this book, and for it being her debut novel as well! I think history buffs will really enjoy this book and know a lot of the significance that is in here - more than I did.
I will definitely be adding this as a book to read if you like WWII topics in the teen collection!
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