Monday, March 02, 2020

34. We Had To Be Brave

We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport. 2020. 368 pages. [Source: Library] [nonfiction; world war II; world at war]

First sentence: Imagine getting on a train and leaving your parents and your family behind.

Premise/plot: Deborah Hopkinson’s newest nonfiction narrative is about the kindertransport. There are multiple narratives unfolding. First there is a general narrative that is explaining, providing context, giving an overall framework for the book. Second there is a narrative that follows three people, two girls (Ruth David, Marianne Elsley) and a boy (Leslie Brent). But it doesn’t stop there. It offers a third narrative, a sprinkling of other voices, dozens of voices. These voices aren’t dominant exactly, more a background ensemble chorus to the the three soloists.

My thoughts: We Had to Be Brave is a compelling introduction for middle graders on up. It gives readers a glimpse, some food for thought, an opportunity to thoughtfully consider the past and contemplate the present and future. There is definitely depth and substance. Definitely feels. Though I will say this it doesn’t dwell in the darkness and sorrow overlong. It is straightforward in what happened. But I didn’t feel it was manipulative to the emotions. I don’t think the goal was to get readers weeping over pages and distraught to go on. You don’t have to push hard to get a reaction. Less is best in some cases.

Review the book in hand. Review the book in hand. I am going to try my best. I say this because when you’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books on the Holocaust, it’s hard not to compare, contrast, have favorites, have preferred narrative styles and formats. I thought this was a solid read. But. It left me wanting more, more, more. I wanted fuller biographies and stories. To be fair, this one is great about steering readers to other books, other sites, even videos. The author perhaps wants readers to want more, to dig deeper, keep seeking and researching. 

© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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