If I Should Die Before I Wake
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

If I Should Die Before I Wake

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  2,686 ratings  ·  274 reviews
Hilary hates Jews. As part of a neo-Nazi gang in her town, she's finally found a sense of belonging. But when she's critically injured in an accident, everything changes.
Somehow, in her mind, she has become Chana, a Jewish girl fighting for her own life in the ghettos and concentration camps of World War II.
Han Nolan offers powerful insight into one young woman's survival...more
Paperback, 293 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published March 31st 1994)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about If I Should Die Before I Wake, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about If I Should Die Before I Wake

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakNight by Elie WieselThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John BoyneNumber the Stars by Lois Lowry
Well Written Holocaust Books
32nd out of 478 books — 1,955 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John BoyneNumber the Stars by Lois LowryEdelweiss Pirates ‘Operation Einstein' by Mark A. CooperBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
YA Holocaust & WWII Novels
22nd out of 193 books — 416 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
In If I Should Die Before I Wake, two girls’ lives are forever connected when they themselves couldn’t be more opposite. Hilary hates every Jewish person on the face of the earth. Part of a neo-Nazi gang, she is actively looking for a way to kill every Jewish person who lives. This is happening about 60 years after World War II. When Hilary and her boyfriend are riding home on a motorcycle in the rain, they crash violently into the car of another. Hilary’s boyfriend leaves with only a few bruise...more
Ruby  Tombstone [Uncensored or Else]
If you are reading this, I am deleted. Or you have nothing more urgent to do.

At some point soon, I will have to sleep. I haven't been doing much of that as late. This has been mostly out of concern for what's happening on GoodReads (and the 17 hour time difference between the site and myself). Every night when I go to bed, I wonder how much of my account will be remaining when I log on in the morning.

As I write this, the curlews outside are shrieking persistently. If you've never heard a curlew...more
Alex Baugh
Hilary Burke, 16, is an angry girl. She is angry at her mother for not being there for her while she was a child. And she is angry at her father for dying when she was 5. Hilary blames his death on his Jewish boss, believing that he skimped on construction material causing the building her father worked in to collapse. So she is angry at all Jews and has focused it on her Jewish neighbors including their son, Simon Schulmann, for being part of a happy, close family.

To deal with all this anger,...more
For some reason, I expected this book to be more about Hillary and less about Chana. I felt a little left out of Hillary’s story, the life of a neo-Nazi. We learn snips of her life, parts of her past, but never really see the whole picture and while I certainly recognize the need to tell Chana’s story of being a Jew during WWII, I felt as if leaving Hillary out of the book so often made her sudden change from hateful to kindhearted a little sudden and somewhat unbelievable. I doubted that someon...more
Morgan F
Possibly my favorite book about the Holocaust. I actually bought this at the Holocaust museum in D.C. It was a moving experience.
One of my classroom bulletin boards features this book and The Book Thief side by side as recommended WWII fiction.

I go crazy over WWII stories. I've been to Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam. It was so cramped and crowded. I loved teaching Elie Wiesel's Night until it moved down to the ninth grade curriculum. Mostly I think my reading obsession comes from disbelief. The disbelief that humanity could be so cruel, and despite overwhelming evidence, some still say the Holocaust was all made up.

How d...more
Amy Hustead
Really great read and I'm saddened I took this long to read it! Should be a must read for high schoolers for sure!

The story as a whole makes you realize that no matter how bad I think I have it, someone somewhere else has had it worse. This is a great book to teach kids how to appreciate differences in religion/race/etc.
This book is one of my favorite ones about WW2! I got it from my sister who passed away a few years ago so I treasure it. It has good voice and makes everything personal. Very cleaver too!
I have read a number of books specifically on the Holocaust, so reading about the torture and the horrible things these people had to go through was nothing new to me. Yet even as I read it, I still got chills every time Hilary/Chana would describe some horrible act. This book didn’t go into much detail about the torture the Jews faced in the camps, at least not compared to pervious books I have read, but if you know anything about the Holocaust and what the Jews faced everyday of their lives, y...more
Since I had to read this for a class, I didn't like it as much as the other books I had to read for class. This one was hard to get into, but the character switches didn't give me any trouble. I don't remember the book ever going into much detail about why Hilary hates the Jews except that her father was killed because of the supposed dirty trading his possibly Jewish boss might have been involved in. Her anger at her mother is evident in the dialogue because readers learn that her mother abando...more
Hillary is a Neo Nazi. She is laying in a hospital bed as the story begins. She was on her boyfriends motorcycle and they got into an accident. She is filled with anger and hate. It's all misdirected at Jewish people. She blames them for her fathers death. After her dad died, her mother couldn't deal. She even left her (a little girl) alone for 3 days. Now, in her coma state, Hillary is seeing an old woman. Soon, she is living the life of a young Jewish girl named Chana. Chana and her family wer...more
Joyce Karen Valdez
It really reminds me of what the Neo-Nazis era was. I've felt the pain that Hilary and Chana were experiencing because of the smooth phasing and transition of the story. I could not also stop reading this book because I'm already waiting for the next thing that will happen to the characters where cruelty and brutality are present. Great deliberation of the story and strong characters are present!
Carmen Penelope Wolcott

This book is THE MOST INSPIRING STORY I HAVE EVER READ! I absolutely loved this book. The way it changes the pov is amazing and it really draws the reader in. I recommend this book for EVERYONE! (Especially people who like historical fiction or emotional stories) Warning: parts of this book are sadder than "The Notebook" :) Enjoy:)
I've been wanting to read this for a long time. I look at it in the library. I take it home. I leave it in the living room. I bring it back. Somehow, I'm just never in the mood for a story about a skinhead neo-nazi and all her hate and violence. Plus, Jane Yolen and the Twilight Zone already did moving 'switch-bodies-with-a-Holocaust-victim' stories.

So, here I am, surprised to tell you that the Hilary (nazi) sections of the story are better written and more moving than the Chana (Holocaust) par...more
Jul 21, 2014 Art rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone into the Holocaust or relationships
Recommended to Art by: Diana Stewart
WOW! What a book! I thought of "The Devil's Arithmetic" Jane Yolen, and Corrie Ten Boom's book, "the Hiding Place".
Good look at Neo-Nazi, young love and love of a parent for a child.
Along w/scriptures that tell of the previous suffering of the Jewish people.
I thought at first the way Nolan used 1st first conversation and thought was disconcerting, however once I was into the story, I thought this mode worked well. Stream of Conciousnessis the term I believe.
very well put together, I thought and...more
This was not an unbiased reading.

To understand my opinion of this book, you'll also have to understand my opinion of Crazy. See, the reason Crazy influenced my opinion so much isn't that it was objectively the best book I've ever read, but that it connected with my real life in such a startling way. It stayed in my mind for months after I read it, and influenced me in a way that very little else does. So you can imagine how excited I was to read another book by the same author. And to be fair, t...more
Sara (sarabara081)
You can find more of my reviews at Forever 17 Books.

This is nothing like I typically read. Whatsoever. But a couple months ago I was talking to a woman who helps run the children’s department at my local indie bookstore where we hold our YA Book Club and she talked to me about her love of this book and recommended it for our March meeting and I agreed purely from her passion. I mean, this is what it is about, right? Finding books you are passionate about and spreading the word to all who may lis...more
We are first introduced to Hilary while she's in the hospital. She's been in a bad motorcycle crash and no one seems to think that she will live even her! There are only a few people that she see's while most of the book is going on, her mother, who arrives to stay by her side and read from the bible the whole time. This, at first drives Hilary crazy. The only thing Hilary likes when we first meet her is hating Jews and her boyfriend. Hilary and Brad both are members of the Neo-Nazi group. Brad...more
John Dudash
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sheena  at Hot Eats and Cool Reads

The cover of this book is so beautiful in such a dark way. I was immediately drawn to it, and just knew I had to read it. Hilary is part of a neo Nazi gang and dislikes Jews in every way. She gets into a motorcycle accident with her boyfriend and while she is in a coma, she becomes a Jewish girl named Chana during World War II. Going back and forth from present day in a coma to Chana's journey from her home, to the Lodz Ghetto and finally Auschwitz we learn what life is/was like for both Hila...more
Dec 05, 2008 Reina added it
I think Han Nolan wrote this book to show people how life was for jews in Germany durind WWII. his book has two main characters, Hilary, and Chana. Hilary is a girl whos father died and feeling alone she decided to join a neo-nazi gang with her boyfriend brad. Hilary gets in a acciedent which leaves her in a coma. while in a coma hilary has flashbacks of a girl name Chana, who was jewish and lived during the halocaust.First her father dies and soon the rest of her family does too, accept her sis...more
Hilary is a girl who hates Jews. She is a member of a Neo-Nazi gang known as the Anryan Wariors. Hilary's friends praise Hitler, make fun of Jews, and beat up Jews. But they go too far when they put a Jewish boy named Simon in a locker at school and leave him there.
But when she and her friends try to escape from the cops after they attack a Jew, an accident occurs. Hillary's life soon takes a turn when she is hospitalized. She is left in a coma after a serious motorcycle accident. While in her...more
Hilary, a Neo-Nazi. Chana, a Jew. Complete opposites, but yet they are connected... Hilary gets into a motorcycle accident with her boyfriend Brad and what kind of hospital is she transported to? A Jewish one, one that she does not want to stay long in. At the hospital she sees this grandma that just seems to keep staring at her. And while she is there, Hilary slips into a kind of coma and is living the life of a Jewish girl named Chana. In Chana's life, the Nazis had just started taking over. J...more
Lauren W
had to read this for school ended up being the only good book ive read for school all year about half way through i couldnt put it down
then i had to write a real review for it so here's that:
If I Die before I Wake by Han Nolan has two main characters. Hilary and Chana. They are complete opposites. Hilary is a neo-Nazi of present day and Chana is a Jew in the time of World War II. Nolan does an amazing job of showing the differences between the two characters and time periods. He paints Hilary pe...more
This was the first book by Han Nolan that I read, and it made me want to read all of her books. It is almost like a book with an alternating narrator because it takes you back and forth between Hilary’s thoughts inside her coma to Chana’s narration of her memories in WWII. Kind of confusing at first, but stick with it! You will love it!
Other books by Han Nolan that my students and I have enjoyed are: Born Blue, Dancing on the Edge, and Send Me Down a Miracle.

Summary: Hilary Burke, a young Neo-Na...more
Sierra Wurmnest
Sierra Wurmnest
6th hour

If I Should Die Before I Wake
Han Nolan
This book was really good. I loved it. After reading about 10 chapters I really wanted to keep reading, but I don’t like books. This book had awesome details and it really made you feel like you were in the book. The graphic parts really had good detail and made you picture what it would look like if you were sitting right there watching it happen.

The main settings in, If I Should Die Before I Wake, changed a lot but mostly i...more
Ayanna Muhammad
I think that If I Should Die Before I wake by Han Nolan was overall a really interesting book. I like it because it because of the detail and it made you feel what the other characters were feeling. Also, the book had a great story line and nice transitions when it switched characters through the chapters. One of the settings of the book in a Jewish hospital. The other setting is in Poland and eventually ends up at a concentration camp in Germany. Some of the main characters in the book are. Cha...more
Victoria D.
"If I should die before I wake" by Han Nolan is now my favorite book. In the first couple chapters, I'ts a little confusing. But then the book gets really good and you understand it better. The book is about a girl named Hilary. She hates jews. Hilary is a neo-nazi who critically injured in a motercycle accident. While she is in a coma, she somehow becomes Chana. A jewish girl fighting for her life during World War II. The Nazis force her and her family to live in the ghetto where she fights for...more
Kaylee L
The name of my book is If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan, I actualy thought the book was boring in the beginning of the book but the book got really really good when I got more into the book. I liked the book because it makes you stop and think of how thankful you should be for all the stuff you have cause alot of people have it ALOT WORSE than you so dont sit there and think your life is bad, because at least you have a home and a warm bed to sleep in. The main setting was basically th...more
I really liked the emotions of hatred and confusion that coursed through Hilary. She really got a clear picture of how it was for Jews and other hated races back in the time of World War II.

The way Hilary thought about Jews before she got into the motorcycle accident was astonishing. I didn't know what such prejudice was still existing, especially from the youth.

When Chana was inserted into the cruel place of Auschwitz, I felt that things were going to end horribly. I knew that her mother and...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Death Camps 2 10 Apr 05, 2012 10:11AM  
  • Anne Frank and Me
  • Torn Thread
  • Run, Boy, Run
  • Good Night, Maman
  • The Cage
  • We Are Witnesses: Five Diaries Of Teenagers Who Died In The Holocaust
  • Daniel's Story
  • The Final Journey
  • No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War
  • Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story
  • Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
  • I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree: A Memoir of a Schindler's List Survivor
  • This Has Happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz
  • Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany
  • Marika
  • Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story
  • Stones in Water
  • My Bridges of Hope
Han Nolan is widely acclaimed for her evocative language, her gritty subject matter, and her ability to plumb the psyche of her characters. Her books include Dancing on the Edge, which won the National Book Award, Send Me own a Miracle, a finalist for the National Book Award, Born Blue, A Summer of Kings, and several other acclaimed novels. She and her husband live on the East Coast.
More about Han Nolan...
Crazy Born Blue Pregnant Pause Dancing on the Edge A Summer of Kings

Share This Book

“When God's moving his hands through your life, you had better sit up and take notice” 7 likes
“I stepped back and looked at all the people as they continued to weave in and out, around and around, faster and faster until they were one blur, until they were One. And then I knew what Bubbe meant. Here, was God.” 2 likes
More quotes…