second world war

by Leora Freedman

Leora Freedman’s first YA novel revolves around two Jewish teens living in a Connecticut suburb in 1973. Zoe and her best friend Naomi spend their days smoking pot, cutting classes, and trying to get a rise out of Mrs. Lev, their Hebrew teacher. At home, Zoe finds inspiration reading about the life of Hannah Senesh, the Jewish heroine executed by a German firing squad after parachuting into Yugoslavia to liberate Hungarian Jews during the Second World War. Senesh’s determination and sense of purpose contrast starkly with the listlessness Zoe and Naomi feel about their own lives. Read more…

by Kathy Kacer and Sharon McKay
Voices of Iraqi Refugees
by Deborah Ellis

For children born into the often easy and materialistic certainties of North American culture, war is mostly the stuff of video games or fantasy fiction, readily engaged or dismissed with the nod of a joystick.

Two eye-opening new books bring the experience of war and its privations to young readers through the words of children who have lived through it. (Tragically, in many cases their families did not.) Both titles deal with different historical realities – Nazi Germany and modern-day Iraq – yet the multiplicity of voices in each succeeds in creating unforgettable and thought-provoking composite views of its subject. Read more…

The Tragic Plight of Three Jewish Women Forced into Prostitution in the Americas
by Isabel Vincent

In Bodies and Souls, seasoned investigative journalist Isabel Vincent turns her attention to an apparently forgotten yet utterly notorious episode in history: the Jewish slave trade that forced thousands of young women out of Eastern Europe and into prostitution in Latin America from the late 19th century until after the Second World War. Read more…

by Wayson Choy

All That Matters is Wayson Choy’s follow-up to his acclaimed first novel, The Jade Peony; both novels concern the Chens, a family caught up in the Chinese diaspora of the 1930s and ’40s.

The Jade Peony told anecdotal tales from the perspective of three of the four Chen children: Liang, the Shirley Temple-obsessed only daughter; Jung, the once-abused adoptive second son, and Sek-Lung, or Sekky, the sickly third son. Read more…

by Robert Hilles

The irony of Robert Hilles’ second novel is that the one thing it lacks is poetry – ironic because Hilles is also a Governor General’s Award-winning poet. The writing here is spare, unadorned, at times even prosaic, a reflection perhaps of subject matter that is almost unrelentingly bleak. This is a novel whose force is in the stories it tells, stories of lives damaged seemingly beyond repair as a result of political and personal events far beyond the control of the characters who endure them. Read more…