Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review Tuesday: The End of the Line by Sharon McKay

The End of the Line by Sharon McKay

From the publisher:

Ordinary citizens risk everything to save a young Jewish girl in wartime Holland. 

Five-year-old Beatrix looks on in horror as the soldier forces her mother off the tram. It is 1942 in Amsterdam, and everyone knows what happens to Jews who are taken away by the Nazis. The soldier turns his attention to Beatrix, when suddenly, the ticket-taker, Lars Gorter, blurts out that she is his niece. With his brother Hans, the tram conductor, they manage to rescue the child from the same fate as her mother. 

The two elderly brothers realize that they are now in charge of the little girl. They are at a loss -- after all, neither one has ever married, let alone has children. They know that harboring a Jew could cost them their lives, but in desperation, they turn to a neighbor, Mrs. Vos, for help. But even these kindly rescuers cannot shield Beatrix totally from the horrors of war. 

Based on real events, this suspenseful novel vividly portrays the fear, uncertainty, and terror of the Nazi occupation in Holland. It is a story that reflects both the worst and best of humankind. A worthy addition to children's books about the Holocaust, The End of the Line will leave young readers to ponder how the most dreadful conditions can lead ordinary citizens to perform the most heroic acts. People like Lars, Hans, and Mrs. Vos, who risked their own lives to save Jews in wartime Europe, were later recognized and honored as "Righteous Gentiles."

Interest:  Ages 8-11

My Review:

I don't teach about WWII, so it's not been a priority on my get to learn about it list. I know that I learned something about it in high school, but it obviously didn't stick.  Years ago, I visited the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. It has a lasting impression on me, but really didn't peak my interest. I didn't want to go out and learn a lot more about the war. But ever since I returned from my cruise this summer, I'm been rather fascinated with reading stories about WWII. While we were in Berlin, we went to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Since then anytime I see a book about the war, I look to see if it might interest me.

As soon as I read the write-up of this story, I knew I wanted to read it.  When reading about stories of people that helped the Jews during the war, you don't often hear about what happened in Holland. At least I've never read anything. This was a fairly short story, it took me about an hour to read but the story was very well written and definitely gave me an idea of what the people of Holland had to go through to survive the war. I will say that there was a surprise at the end of the story that had me in tears.

This is definitely a story I would recommend to my students. It tells the horrific story of what happened to people of the Jewish faith, but in a way that a child would understand it. If you cover WWII in your classroom, this is definitely a story for lesson plans!

You can find more information about the book, including lesson plans on the publishers website.

You can get the book at the following retailers:

Thanks go out to Annick Press via NetGalley for a copy of the story in exchange of an honest review.

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