Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Devil's Arithmetic

The Devil's Arithmetic. Jane Yolen. 1988. Penguin. 170 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Devil's Arithmetic is a captivating book. It is a story within a story. I'm not sure why it works so brilliantly, I just know it does.

The outside frame of the story is set in modern times. Hannah, the heroine, is, along with her family, preparing to celebrate the Passover Seder at another family member's home. To Hannah, this "celebration" or "observance" is a waste of time and energy. She just does not get it at all or understand why it's so important to other members of her family. It's something she has to do that she can't talk her way out of. But something happens to Hannah when she opens the front door to 'welcome Elijah.'

She opens the door to the past and walks right through. She finds herself in a Polish village in 1942! It's not Passover in 1942, but, there is a celebration going on just the same. A wedding in the village! But tragically, this wedding never occurs. The Nazis take everyone away; everyone is relocated. Hannah (Chaya) makes new friends, and fights to survive. It won't be easy. This new life, this 1942 life, becomes oh-so-painfully real to her. She knows what's coming. She knows about the death camps. She knows about how many Jews were killed, how many never came out of the camps, how many families were torn apart. She knows and can do nothing to prevent it from happening. She's powerless, but, her words still have power. Her words can shape stories that give hope and courage and strength to her fellow sufferers.

The story ends beautifully in my opinion. It may be an intense read, but, it's worth it.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Victoria Roberts 1:41 PM  

I read this back in 8th grade and absolutely loved it!! Still is one of my favorite books.

Daphne L 11:28 PM  

You find some great books to read and review. I will follow your blog. Plus the design is so pretty!

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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