- Age Range: 10 - 14 years
- Grade Level: 5 - 9
- Lexile Measure: 0740 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Calkins Creek (March 7, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1629794988
- ISBN-13: 978-1629794983
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#373,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #117 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Family Life > Stepfamilies
- #538 in Books > Children's Books > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > United States > 1900s
- #631 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Friendship, Social Skills & School Life > Bullies
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The Enemy: Detroit, 1954 Hardcover – March 7, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—One aspect of becoming an adult—and a dominant theme in this book—is developing the understanding that our perceptions of the truth can be wrong. Marjorie is 12 years old and lives in 1950s Detroit. Not only is her family affected by the fear of communism but her father still struggles as a result of his time fighting in World War II. When Inga Scholtz, a new student from Germany, is seated next to Marjorie in class, the protagonist begins to grapple with her preconceptions and prejudices. Furthering Marjorie's anxiety and confusion, her friends create the "Slam Book" to shame Inga. When everything comes to a head, Marjorie learns that true bravery is standing up to those who use prejudice and untruth to bully and humiliate others. Marjorie is a young woman living in a time when biased opinions are too easily distorted into fact. Holbrook uses her own firsthand knowledge, from her childhood in the 1950s, to demonstrate the impact that the outside political and social climate has on Marjorie and her family. Read-alikes include Christine Kohler's No Surrender Soldier, Monika Schröder's My Brother's Shadow, and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's Making Bombs for Hitler. VERDICT A fine example of historical fiction for middle school readers. This will tie in to most curricula and is a good choice for any public or school library collection.—Meaghan Nichols, Archaeological Research Associates, Ont.
Poet Holbrook brings back the Cold War in her debut novel for middle grades. A solid fictional examination of a time rarely depicted for this age group. She's ace at delineating the petty jealousies and tyrannies of middle school girls and her evocation of the era feels absolutely true. Marjorie's cowardice and ultimate courage lead to a rousingly satisfying ending that...will resonate with readers.' – Kirkus Reviews
...a dominant theme in this book—is developing the understanding that our perceptions of the truth can be wrong. Holbrook uses her own firsthand knowledge...to demonstrate the impact that the outside political and social climate has on (the main character) and her family. An excellent example of historical fiction for middle school readers.' School Library Journal
Poet Holbrook crafts a charming story...This historical view of interpersonal relations will no doubt speak to many of today's readers...Marjorie... is just the right type of character to take readers though this journey...With thoughtful characters and theme...those who are looking for a contemplative reflection on how to open one's heart will find just what they need in this novel.' VOYA
Holbrook brings home the complexities of the Cold War era in a multicultural Detroit neighborhood...Marjorie is a sympathetic character whose struggles to understand fear and prejudice...resonate sharply in today's political climate.' Publishers Weekly
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The Enemy takes place in a multi-cultural neighborhood in 1954 Detroit. If you remember Nash Ramblers, party lines, blackboards with chalk and eraser trays, 2-cent postcards and the Cold War, you will identify with Holbrooks’s well drawn characters. Sixth grader Marjorie Campbell is the older of two daughters in a middle class home. As many of us did, she walks to school with her best friend and neighbor Bernadette along with Bernadette’s 8-year-old brother Artie and Marjorie’s younger sister Carole Anne.
The rest of Marjorie’s family consists of her father Jack, a World War II and Korean War veteran, her mother Lila, a college educated housewife with limited kitchen skills, and Frank, the orphaned son of one of her father’s best friends. Jack will joke about the war but never discuss it seriously, even with Lila. After returning from military service, Jack works for Chrysler in their Defense Engineering department where he helps to develop top secret military vehicles. He doesn’t want his wife to work because it might indicate to some that he can’t support his own family.
Marjorie’s curiosity is legendary in the family and neighborhood. Just as Bernadette’s little brother breaks out in hives from time to time, Marjorie “breaks out in questions.” Her hobby is collecting travel books and brochures. For the price of a 2-cent postcard, she responds to ads she sees in National Geographic and keeps the “world in a box under her bed.”
As the story begins, Marjorie, Bernadette and Artie are building a snow fort in the front yard. The plan is for Marjorie and Bernadette to take defensive positions while Artie assumes the role of a Nazi attacking them. At least that’s Bernadette’s plan. Artie has decided he will only pretend to be Al Capone. During this stalemate, Marjorie sees a strange man watching them. He’s just standing there with his black cap pulled down so low it nearly covers his eyes. This puts Marjorie on immediate alert. Could this be a Nazi, a Commie, “DP” (displaced person) or a foreign spy she hears people talking about? During this time of oaths of allegiance and McCarthyism, every stranger has the potential to be “the enemy.”
The tension in the book results from the suspicion of war weary neighbors trying to understand the influx of new people into their neighborhoods and schools. The 1950s were a fascinating time in our nation’s history and are also especially relevant to the current era of growing suspicion of outsiders and immigrants. Holbrook uses some of her own childhood experiences of growing up in Detroit to add authenticity to the story. The Enemy is well researched and beautifully written. I hope it finds its way to both the children’s and adult sections of local public and school libraries.