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Greater Than Angels Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
Deported from Germany to Vichy France during WWII, Anna is sent to Le Chambon, a refuge for Jews. PW called it "an inspiring and memorable lesson in courage." Ages 9-12. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-8ASet in Vichy, France, this novel covers a section of Europe often overlooked in Holocaust literature. Anna, 13, along with her mother, her aunt, and grandmother, are deported from Germany to Gurs, a refugee camp on the French-Spanish border. The details of the journey and the terrible conditions there are vividly and realistically described. Anna's grandmother dies and the girl's mother and aunt are eventually removed to a concentration camp and never heard from again. Relief workers arrange for Anna and some of the other young people to be sent to the village of Le Chambon where French citizens take them in and allow them to live with some semblance of normalcy. Anna is a strong young woman with a flair for acting and singing and a penchant for telling corny jokes. She and her friends spend long hours discussing the "why" of what is happening to the Jews of Europe, trying to understand a universe in which such evil could exist. A budding romance between Anna and Rudi, a childhood friend, gives a little extra zest to the plot. The French gendarmes who are collaborating with the Nazis provide a sharp contrast to the actions of the local people, who literally risk their lives to help the Jewish children. A map clearly shows the areas where the story takes place. In an afterword, Matas tells of interviews she had with survivors who spent the war years in Le Chambon. This well-researched historical novel will make a good addition to middle-school collections.ABruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I love the way that this book is written because when you think everything is all right, something else happens. This book is such a thriller to read, I couldn't put it down! It is written in first person, so I always knew Anna's feeling about what was happening. It really gave me a different view of the war because this book didn't take place in a concentration camp.
My favorite part was when the kids would have conversations about God. I like to know all of the different perspectives on God. Some were saying, "If there is a God, why is this happening?" I bet that's what a lot of the Jews thought. However, that is not Anna's view. She basically says, "We all have the power to do good and evil; the people doing this to us have chosen evil." That is kind of how I feel about God, too, so I can relate to how Anna feels. This tells me that Anna is smart and devoted to God.
Mostly, this was a very good book. I liked reading about her experiences in the refuge camp, and it was exciting when they were hiding from the Germans, but sometimes I thought it was a little unrealistic, or slow. I thought there should have been a little more trouble or drama just to add to the problems many Jews faced during WWII. They get out of trouble all too easily for me to believe. Did all Jews get away form the Germans that easily? I don't think so, and that is why I think it should have more drama in places so that the book could relate more to all Jews hiding from the Germans.
I have read a few books about Jews during World War II, and I'm not saying this was the best, but it gave me a new perspective on the war. Mostly books about WWII are how the Jews suffered in concentration camps. This book show that not all people hated the Jews, and that many were actually doing something to help the Jews hide. It also teaches the importance of resistance, and how just by doing small things many Jews were saved from going to a concentration.
This relates to what I think one of the main themes is in this book: Helping is helping, no mater how much you think you helped. Rudi and Anna were passing out false papers, and it may seem that that wouldn't help much, but they did help a lot of people escape to safe places. This prevented them from going to a concentration camp, which was a huge deal. So, read this book, and relate it to your own life. Doing small acts of kindness to help can make a huge difference to somebody.
This story is based on truth--the town of Le Chambon really did exist in France, and during the Holocaust the people there kept Jews safe in their homes. I liked reading this book and knowing that there were good people who were willing to put their own lives at risk in such a dangerous time in order to save the lives of others.
A weak point of the story is the romance. I could see it coming right from the beginning, and it was very contrived. The story would have been just as strong without this element.