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My Family for the War Hardcover – February 16, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books (February 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803733607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803733602
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A 2013 ALSC Notable Children's Book — ALSC

Kids' Indie Next List, Spring 2012 — Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers

* "With the personal Kindertransport history, the intense drama about family, faith, guilt, love, and loyalty in wartime makes this an important addition to the Holocaust curriculum."  — Booklist, starred review

* "Events and facts are expertly woven into the girl's emotional growth, and changing relationships . . . provide a rich exploration of identity and self. With a compelling main character and taut and insightful story line, this novel is sure to find no shortage of readers, and it adds a valuable perspective to collections of World War II fiction." — School Library Journal, starred review

"[An] engaging and often moving coming-of-age story. A poignant, thoughtful work." — Kirkus

"This multilayered story [which] cogently explores themes of motherhood and adoptive families is gracefully portrayed." — Publishers Weekly

"My Family for the War is a must-have for young adults. The novel is simultaneously beautiful, touching, and heart wrenching." — VOYA

"This is a solid addition to Holocaust collections, life on the home front during the war, and for discussions of what is a family." — Library Media Connection review

About the Author

Anne C. Voorhoeve is an award-winning German novelist and screenwriter. She lives in Berlin, Germany.

Tammi Reichel is an instructor of German at the University of Richmond and lives with her family in Virginia.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
Very well written.
Nathan Abromson
This is the beginning of much culture shock, as Frances slowly comes to adjust to, even love, her new family.
Beverly Diehl
This book, a great historical/coming-of-age novel for readers of all ages, starts out innocently enough.
Larry Boodry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anyechka on December 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I read this book as part of my final project for my YA Lit class, and was very impressed with it. In early 1939, 10-year-old Franziska Mangold is sent from Germany to England on a Kindertransport and an uncertain future. Though her grandparents converted out of Judaism several generations ago, Ziska's family is still considered Jewish by the Nazis, and she finds herself the victim of school bullies and discriminatory laws. She still considers herself a Christian when she arrives, but slowly begins learning more about Judaism thanks to her Orthodox foster family, the Shepards. In particular, her older foster brother Gary helps her to feel welcome. (I know this book wasn't originally published in North America or English, but I found it kind of unsettling that the foster father's name is Matthew Shepard. Every time I saw his full name written out, I couldn't help but think of that poor murdered young man.)

When the war comes to England in 1940, Ziska, now renamed Frances, experiences things such as evacuation to the countryside, rationing, bombing raids, and loved ones at war. Along the way, she comes to terms with the very real possibility of never seeing her blood family again, and grows closer and closer to the Shepards as the family she's grown up with. She even grows closer to her foster mother Amanda than she was with her own mother, Mamu. As the war draws to an end, Frances has mixed feelings over reuniting with any potential surviving members of her family and having to leave the family and community she's grown to know and love. She's become more Jewishly observant over the years, a far cry from her early years in Germany, and has also grown to feel like a real British girl, no longer just a refugee.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Knapp on March 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Preteen Ziska Mangold and her best friend Bekka practice their survival plans - the routes they will take to escape bullies, embolded by the increasingly anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany. Ziska's family is more Christian than Jewish, but that doesn't matter when the persecution begins. As Jews seek safe havens, the Mangolds must decide whether to split up or stay together. "Ziskele" secures a place on a Kindertransport, and the greater part of this well-written book details Ziska (now re-christened Frances) as she adjusts to her life in a London, and her subsequent evacuation to the countryside.

I had expected a straightforward story, perhaps with a feel good "happily united" ending, but Voorhoeve didn't take that route. Ziska/Frances does a few things she isn't overly proud of, and the adults aren't perfect either. Her adoptive family is loving, and Frances matures under their care, torn between the new family and friends she comes to love, and her parents and dear Bekka, left behind to an unknown fate. The book is not in any way a "downer" but neither does it take the easy narrative for Ziska/Frances. Suggest to intelligent readers, grades 8 and up.

Note: MY FAMILY FOR THE WAR won the ALA's Batchelder Award, awarded to the most outstanding children's book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States.

About me: I'm a middle school/high school librarian
How I got this book: purchased for the library
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Beverly Diehl on May 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
4.5 stars Take a young Jewish girl in Berlin, add World War II and the Holocaust. I thought it was going to be an intensely tragic book, and instead it was fascinating, humorous in places, and uplifting, despite a generous sprinkling of fear and tragedy.

Franziska, aged about 11, doesn't even know she's Jewish - her parents and grandparents, even, were all Christian. This doesn't matter to the Nazis - her father is beaten, the family is terrorized, and her mother "abandons" her by getting Ziska put on one of the last kindertransport trains to leave the country.

In London, she walks into her foster home, an Orthodox Jewish family, wearing a cross necklace. This is the beginning of much culture shock, as Frances slowly comes to adjust to, even love, her new family. While still worried about her family of origin, she and her new family are not safe either, as London becomes a major bombing target. Eventually Frances is uprooted yet again, sent to the countryside with other London children, to a foster home with a very different atmosphere.

Ziska/Frances is a compelling, far from perfect character, but she loves, and she survives, not without some grief and laughter along the way. I highly recommend this book, for readers of all ages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amber Galvin on June 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You ride the highs and the lows of this wartime story with the characters. While you know historically it doesn't end well for many, this story brings to light some of the complicated relationships and happier nuances. A very good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lorraine E. on June 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
this book , even tho fiction, brought about the emotional response of true history in the plight of the Jewish people in Germany and the people of England.
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By Larry Boodry on October 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, a great historical/coming-of-age novel for readers of all ages, starts out innocently enough. Ten-year-old Ziska and her friend Bekka, best friends living with their Jewish families in Berlin, are practicing their 'survival plan,' part of which involves jumping from Ziska's third-floor bedroom window into the branches of a tree. The tone darkens quickly, with the hateful words of a downstairs neighbor woman, who has no love for Jews.

Ziska also endures a savage attack by bullies, but not without giving a little back, then later she watches in horror as the Nazis kick in her family's door, beat her father bloody, and try to apprehend her. She escapes by jumping from her window into the tree.

And that's only the beginning. I will not give away more of the plot, except to echo other reviewers who mentioned that the story does not settle for easy answers or pat, happy endings. That said, the book's undercurrent of hope, and Ziska's own unbreakable spirit, will have readers cheering for her.
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