Tag: nonfiction

WWII Resistance & a Plot to Assassinate Hitler: Faithful Spy by John Hendrix

“Faith, without action, is no faith at all. Love, without sacrifice, is no love at all.”

What books inspire you on a profound level, maybe even on a spiritual level? I am of the belief that stories have the capacity to change the reader from the inside out.

If you are familiar with this blog and my research, you might remember one idea I propose. Reading and responding to books for young readers is one way to nurture our spirituality as adults. And this is exactly what happened as I read Faithful Spy, a nonfiction text with amazing graphics by John Hendrix.

DIETRICH BONHOEFFR, SPY IN THE RESISTANCE

This moving story depicts the courageous life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who spoke out and took a stand for justice during the dark era in WWII Germany when the Nazis were in power. This is a true story about someone incredibly interesting. And Bonhoeffer was a member of the Resistance, a spy, a pastor, and ethical thinker! The text includes direct quotations from Bonhoeffer himself, adding a rich dimension to a well-researched biography. Take a look at the illustrations in this one. You will probably be mesmerized!

Something else I love about this book is the way the author charts the journey of Bonhoeffer as he realizes he must alter his life in order to truly take a stand for what he believes.

Bonhoeffer recognizes that what the Nazis are doing is wrong and his life choices reflect amazing conviction and courage. As a result, he works to convince others to do the same. Like Bonhoeffer, we can confront injustice in the ways we are able, but maybe this stand for justice can be even more effective when in the context of community.

Hendrix provides a well-needed book for today’s young readers, and I’m interested to know what other readers think about Bonhoeffer’s life and the way he took a stand in the face of evil and hatred.

A YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist, this young adult text is engaging and inspiring. So, once you open this book, you might not be able to put it down until you’ve turned the last page. Faithful Spy, like many other books for young readers, reinforces to me that adult readers also have opportunities to be inspired and grow in compassion and wisdom.

What books for younger readers have inspired you? Are there other biographies or autobiographies for young readers that you would recommend? If so, tell me about them!
What Katie Read

The Unquenchable Faith that Saved Thousands of Children: Irena’s Children

The Unquenchable Faith that Saved Thousands of Children: Irena’s ChildrenIrena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo
on September 26, 2017
Pages: 317
Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist. While there, she reached out to the trapped Jewish families, going from door to door and asking the parents to trust her with their young children. She started smuggling them out of the walled district, convincing her friends and neighbors to hide them. Driven to extreme measures and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. She made dangerous trips through the city’s sewers, hid children in coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through secret passages in abandoned buildings. But Irena did something even more astonishing at immense personal risk: she kept secret lists buried in bottles under an old apple tree in a friend’s back garden. On them were the names and true identities of those Jewish children, recorded with the hope that their relatives could find them after the war. She could not have known that more than ninety percent of their families would perish. In Irena’s Children, Tilar Mazzeo tells the incredible story of this courageous and brave woman who risked her life to save innocent children from the Holocaust—a truly heroic tale of survival, resilience, and redemption.

“Heroes,” she said, “do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal.” (262-263)

I arrived in Orlando at ALA Annual last year, with a nonfiction book on my list to pick up, Irena’s Children. I secured an ARC, and recently finished the book during a flight from Boston to Atlanta for ALA Midwinter. I can tell you that this book is fantastic!

The story of Irena and her group of courageous individuals working to save the lives of children during an incredibly dark time in world history was intense, inspiring, beautiful, heartrending, and miraculous!

I don’t often post reviews of nonfiction titles, but this is one book I would recommend that EVERYONE read. Sometimes the truth is as wondrous and as strange as fiction. In the case of Tilar J. Mazzeo’s text, that notion is incredibly true.

The book is set up in chronological order, and charts Irena’s journey as a young woman first becoming concerned with the plight of Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Poland, and eventually moving to become a major player in the Polish resistance. Many different characters are introduced as they relate to the vast and courageous network of individuals who worked with Irena to smuggle children out of the Warsaw ghetto. This collaboration had Irena at its head, but around twenty to twenty-five other individuals played important roles. Mazzeo points out as well, that the actual number of people who took part to help save these children are actually “dozens upon dozens.”

The pacing of the story is perfect–including details and scenes of what took place as Irena and her network worked through truly terrifying and high pressure situations in order to thwart the Nazis and rescue Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Mazzeo provides plenty of relevant and interesting information about Irena, born in 1910, and continues to strengthen the narrative by also describing the people with whom Irena connected earlier in her life, that would later play a role in her work to save children.

Can you imagine facing the pressure of separating hundreds of children from their parents, and somehow keeping a secret record of where those children were hidden and their real names so that they could be later connected with their parents after the war?!? I can only begin to imagine what a monumental and perhaps stressful task this must have been. Sadly, the vast majority of parents ended up perishing by the end of the war. The book does refer to the emotional pain that Irena experienced at forcing, out of necessity, a child to leave his/her mother and father. How could you explain to a two year old that he/she has no choice but to leave a beloved parent? It’s almost unthinkable.

Irena is basically considered the female “Oskar Schindler” but, as this book attests, her identity as a resilient and brave woman who achieved the extraordinary can stand on its own. Irena isn’t the only “hero” in this book, however. Mazzeo portrays many other figures who assisted Irena in her courageous attempt to save children from a terrible fate.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book was both gripping and difficult to read. It depicted a timeline of events I sometimes didn’t want to think about, and yet, it was a timeline of events I had an obligation to read about. And to encourage others to read about. What Irena and her network accomplished should be honored and remembered. The children who perished during the Holocaust should be remembered. The children who endured the most difficult of circumstances during this period in history should be remembered. For all these reasons and more, read Irena’s Children.

For here is an important book. A necessary book. A book you must read, even if it is the only book you read all year.

What Katie Read

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Recently Added To My To-Be-Read List

TopTenTuesday5 Border

What are the last books I added to my TBR?

Of course I hopped over to GoodReads to take a look at my TBR list, and include here very recently added Children’s, Young Adult, and Adult titles. I don’t just include ARC’s because that’s not all I read, so you’ll some older books as well as some upcoming releases. In fact, you’ll find one book from the Victorian period!

As usual, this weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Be sure to link up each week so we can visit your Top Ten!

scent of triumph

Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran

I just found out about this one from Leah on Twitter, and it’s another Adult title set during WWII!

a sense of the infinite

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

This is out in May and sounds like a beautiful new Contemporary YA–focusing on “identity, loss, and the bounds of friendship.”

silver in the blood

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

This is out in July from Bloomsbury and just look at that cover! A Romanian setting–historical and fantasy combined? Yes, please!

cuckoo songCuckoo Song by Frances Harding

Sure, the cover seems a little creepy but this one is on the Carnegie Shortlist for 2015, and Kim from The Midnight Garden recommended it. Wendy Darling gave it 5 stars so that may be enough to get you to check it out as well!

ink and bone

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Any book that focuses on a library is one that’s going to end up on my TBR. Case closed.

coincidence-of-coconut-cake

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

This Adult title isn’t out until July, but I happen to have an e-ARC of it, so am looking forward to reading a combination of You’ve Got Mail and How to Eat a Cupcake!

the hidden princeThe Hidden Prince by Jodi Meadows

I still have The Orphan Queen to read, but you can bet I will snatch up these novellas when they’re out.

the law and the lady

The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins

I am a fan of Wilkie Collins and I always will be, whether my undergraduate English professors approve or not. I haven’t read this title of his, so think it’s time that I finally did.

a fine dessert

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall

Four famillies, four cities, four centuries: all making the same dessert, Blackberry Fool. Sounds enchanting!

when christ and his saints sleptWhen Christ and His Saints Slept (Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine #1) by Sharon Kay Penman

I added this one because after reading Lady Thief and starting Lionheart by A.C. Gaughen, I’m interesting in finding out more about Eleanor of Aquitaine. I have a book about her I bought while in England, but sadly, it’s in storage at the moment!

What books have been recently added to your TBR? Are of any of mine on your list?

What Katie Read
%d bloggers like this: