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Almost Autumn Hardcover – January 3, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Ilse Stern, 15, is smitten with Hermann, the boy next door, in this historical novel set in Oslo. With World War II hovering in the background, life quickly spins out of control, pulling Ilse and Hermann in very different directions. As Ilse and her family confront growing anti-Semitic persecution, Hermann becomes increasingly secretive. Jewish families face pressure from police, discrimination in the work environment, displacement from their homes, and even deportation to concentration camps. Most of the narrative is told from Ilse's perspective, and there is very little historical context for readers to glean understanding about the German occupation of Norway or the larger Nazi movement. In addition, occasional switches of perspectives may pose a challenge for some, while the large number of characters often receive superficial treatment. In an afterword, Kaurin notes that she was inspired to write the novel by imagining the many "what-if" scenarios that shaped people's lives during the Holocaust, and her exploration of these situations, along with her unusual setting, may draw readers. For other titles specific to Norway during World War II, suggest Margi Preus's Shadow on the Mountain or Sandy Brehl's Odin's Promise. VERDICT Purchase where historical fiction and Holocaust books are in high demand.—Paige Rowse, Needham High School, MA
"An intimate, chilling look at an individual family's experience of the Holocaust." -- Publishers Weekly
"This translated import features the cool, distanced narration often attributed to Scandinavian novels, but the accelerating pace that accompanies the changing viewpoints, together with the obviously limited number of possible outcomes, make the experience surprisingly visceral. Thoughtful and satisfying, this is as much about destiny as about the Holocaust -- families lost, lives reformed, futures unknown, love reclaimed, all by the slightest nudge of circumstance. " -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
* "[An exploration of] the nature of chance and fate. " -- Horn Book, starred review
"Readers will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will happen." -- School Library Connection
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I was moved most by the chapters narrated by the father and the cab driver. It's uncommon to see a young adult novel show the emotions of the adults, and I found it very relatable, appealing, and authentic. Without giving away too much, I was also moved by a character's narrative after a difficult journey from Norway to Germany. It was not an easy chapter to read, but history is not always easy to stomach.
This book authentically portrays how a variety of people would have reacted (or not reacted as the case often is) to German control. I was very moved by the narrative and enjoyed it immensely. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Holocaust, anyone who likes history, and anyone who will not shy away from some hard truths.