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If I Should Die Before I Wake
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If I Should Die Before I Wake

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  2,898 ratings  ·  290 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)
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35th out of 512 books — 2,089 voters
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22nd out of 202 books — 492 voters


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Community Reviews

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Hannah
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 [With A Vengeance]
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
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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,
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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.
Mirrani
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
Jenna
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
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Melissa Delatorre
I believe everyone should be treated right like everybody else.this historical fiction book is very sad at a point.

It takes place in the civil war time at night and morning because then we know where they are at.Hilary a 16 year old wanted to kill all the Jews alive but she is critically injured in an accident and everything changes. So Hilary has become Chana with a different family. Then she us a Jewish girl fighting for her life in World War ll. the conflict is person vs person because Chan
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Cari
If I Should Die Before I Wake is a book about not judging others until you've been in their shoes and known their suffering. It's about a teenage girl who joins a neo-Nazi group and spends her time hating and tormenting Jewish members of her community. When Hillary is in a motorcycle accident and lies comatose in a Jewish hospital, the only thing she sees is an old woman staring at her knowingly. Somehow, through this old woman, she is taken back in time to another life where she is a young Jewi ...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.
Alexxa Owen
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!
Arielle
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
Emily
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
Brady pongratz
She is a girl who is part of a neo Nazi gang and is part Jewish. When she insults a Jew she later gets a past memory about a Jew. She gets a vision of a Nazi when she is a Jew and gets worried about a raid.
Hannah Farrell
Have you ever been forced to put yourself in someone else's shoes? Have you ever been in their shoes long enough to know what they've been put through? I read If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan. I liked the book because it was interesting to learn more about what the Jews went through and what happened to Hilary and her group of friends. Hilary joined a group that hates Jew and wants Jews killed. Hilary goes from being a 16 year old girl hating Jews and siding with Hitler to being Jew wi ...more
Jada Smith
Have you ever wondered what it was like to live during the Holocaust? The nazi perspective? The Jewish perspective? Well, in the book If I should die before I wake written by Han Nolan you’ll get to read about both. It’s about a young girl named Hilary who is apart of a Nazi youth gang which was introduced to her by Brad, the boy of her dreams who may not have the most positive influence on her. Soon enough Hilary finds herself close to death in a Jewish hospital due to a motorcycle accident tha ...more
Shayna Grassl
What do you think it would be like to be a Jew during World War 2? What do you think it's like to be a German? In the book "If I should die before I wake" you get the perspective of two girls named Hilary and Chana. Hilary is a German teenager who is in a neo-Nazi gang in her town. They absolutely hate Jews. Hilary ends up being involved in an accident and is severely injured. She has now became Chana, a Jew. Chana is fighting for her life in World War 2 along with her family. In this book you w ...more
Frances Moe
Nazis for kids. Terrorizing the Jewish. Heiling Hitler. These were things that Hillary loved to take part of. She is part of a neo-Nazi gang in her town where she feels she "belongs." She has the fantasy of running off with their leader Brad, delusional by what he is showing her. But when she gets into a motorcycle accident with her so called leader, where does she soon find herself? A Jewish hospital. Lying in the hospital bed, Hillary finds herself near death, in a coma, experiencing things th ...more
Mel
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!
Ally Carpenter
I almost wish this would've been written solely as a plain holocaust novel. The Hilary plot that lay over Chana's story was completely pointless -- even frustrating -- until those last few pages. And it was certainly not worth the wait, it was just confusing. Additionally, I picked up this book expecting more details of Hilary's Neo-Nazi involvement, and on the rare occasions that it was brought up, the supposed workings of a Neo-Nazi group were laughable. Locking Jewish kids in lockers, and sla ...more
Catherine
This book begins with a horrible girl who I didn't care about as a reader. In fact I hated her so much, I almost didn't want to continue the book, but I have learned to trust Han Nolan - she has a writing style that is often uncomfortable for the reader, yet she takes one on a journey that I have not yet regretted.

This book shows how connected we really are - even when we don't see those connections. We as humans need each other.

I like the character changes and the fact that Nolan's characters
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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:)
Robin
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
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Art
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
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Mike
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
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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
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Rebecca
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
4.5

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
Reina
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
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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.
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Crazy Born Blue Pregnant Pause Dancing on the Edge A Summer of Kings

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“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
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