Thursday, December 18, 2014

Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Today’s children are told never to keep secrets. But what if your life depends on it? What if you learn to lie so well that you start to forget who you really are? And if that happens, how will you find your true self again?
Odette Meyers was a Jewish child who survived WWII in France by hiding in plain sight. Many of the 84% of Jewish children saved in that country lived through the war in this way. Told in first person in free verse in Odette’s childhood voice, this historical novel “is a gentle introduction to a dark period.”
My Thoughts:
I’m an expert now at keeping secrets.
Did God punish me because I told a lie,
said that I was not Jewish?
I can’t stop being scared, though.”  (Odette – after moving to the French countryside)

Did you know that parents hid their children in the French countryside during WWII?  What a sacrifice was made to protect Jewish children from the Holocaust!  Maryann Macdonald captures the combination of innocence and sheer terror in the life story of Odette Meyers as she experiences France as a Jewish girl during WWII.  Odette had a very profound experience through poetry during her childhood, so Maryann honored that by choosing to write Odette’s story in an open verse format.  Although the intended audience  is children between the ages of 10-14, I think this book is significant for readers of all ages!

Not only do you learn facts about WWII from the viewpoint of a Jewish survivor, but you experience the juxtaposition of childlike innocence against the terror of a Nazi invasion and the Holocaust.  It is a beautifully written story that paints a vivid word picture of a family separated for years, and the experiences they had to endure in order to survive.

I was very moved by Odette’s story, and I pray the youth of today understand the price that was paid in order for them to live in freedom!!  Odette’s Secret has already earned multiple awards, and I think it will play a significant role in the education of many children.
About the Author:
Maryann Macdonald is the author of 25 books for children. Her latest is "Odette's Secrets," is published by Bloomsbury. A starred review in Kirkus states: "...this fictionalized history of a Jewish child surviving the Nazi occupation of France uses an elegant simplicity of language" and "...makes an ideal Holocaust introduction...."

Maryann's love of books and reading began when she was growing up in a family of ten outside Detroit. She lived in Europe for many years, where she discovered the touching story of Odette Meyers' childhood in her memoir, "Doors to Madame Marie." 

Maryann now lives in New York City, a great place for stumbling upon the unexpected.

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