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Endless Steppe is going to require you to have google earth or a great pictorial atlas at your fingertips. I found myself quickly googling things as I was reading this book because the descriptions were quite amazing. The story is about a prominent Jewish family that all live in one huge house with many small apartments off of it for various members. The young girl on the cover is 10 the day this story starts & she's awoken on a summer morning & her mother demands she gets dressed at once. Young Esther is quite use to doing as she pleases & living a life of high privlage, she finds the demand very out of place & begins to argue. She soon learns, though, that in order to survive she must do as she's asked without question. The Rudomin family are considered Capitalists & are whisked away on cattle cars for a 6 week ride which lands them in Siberia. A far away land reserved for the worst criminals. Through the course of the story you learn the harsh reality of life for many who were sent there & considered criminals. There is no perfect ending to this story as it follows the outcome of WW2, but for the Rudomin Family, at least those who were banished to Siberia, find a happy ending eventually.
I Am David is also known as North To Freedom & was made into a movie in 2008. This is a book that's been on our children's "to read" list for many years. It's a book my husband dearly loved as a child & caused him to fall in love with reading, so when it sprung up on our list this year Mr S was very very excited. Funnier yet, while reading the book with visiting company this past weekend my brother-in-law said the very same thing. This book takes a different look at WW2 as we follow David's escape from a concentration camp & his journey, by foot, to Denmark. Why Denmark? That's where he was told to go by the man who helped him escape.
David's journey is emotional, made by a young boy with the wisdom that most adults lack. I really loved this book & no sooner finished it then I wanted to pick it up & begin it all over again. As David journeys, night after night, he stumbles, across people but is always wary of each of them. After all, they could be working for them. He's deeply scared, emotionally, due to his time in the concentration camp, but it's this deep scaring that spurs him along, always, to his final destination.
The Silver Sword is also known by the more modern title of Escape From Warsaw. Either way the story is about a young family who are torn in many directions when WW2 explodes on Warsaw. Their father is taken to prison for turning the picture of Hitler to face the wall during a Bible lesson. Mother is hauled off by the police to work the German land, & the children are presumed dead by the neighbours when the apartment building they are in blows up.
Within minutes of beginning the book you'll find yourself caught up in father's escape from the prison, his journey back to Warsaw as he seeks out his children. The knowledge from the sensible neighbour who reminds him that all families must have pre-arranged an emergency meeting place should they be torn apart. Thus begins the story of Balicki family.. While I enjoyed this book, I especially enjoyed the ending & not due to a "happily ever after" but more for the fact that it included so much information, woven into the final chapter, about the plight & help given to so many children who were now displaced & lost due to WW2.
Snow Treasure was the lightest read of all these stories, but no less enjoyable. It tells the story of a Norwegian village occupied by German soldiers. They have much gold in their bank, because despite the horrors of the world at that time, their banks were doing quite well. They refuse to let the money fall into enemy hands & choose, instead, to make a daring plan to move the money out of their country right under the noses of the soldiers who are now occupying their country. Is it true? That's the burning question when you read this story, & the author states that it's never been proven to be true, but that her idea was based on the story of a Norwegian Freighter landing in Baltimore telling this very story. It is said that the Captain of the Freighter would not tell the name of the fjord in which his boat came so as to protect the young children who had helped save all the gold, & thus if the story was true it could never be proven.
My only fault with this book was that I wanted more.. there is conclusion at the end, but my mind had so many questions I wanted to ask that I went looking to see if I could find a sequel, but I couldn't discover any other books even written by this author. The book was apparently made into a movie in 1968, but I can't seem to locate a copy. It also looks like another version is under production.