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The Devil's Arithmetic

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  35,539 Ratings  ·  1,737 Reviews
Hannah thinks tonight Passover Seder will be the same as always. But this year she will be mysteriously transported into the past. Only she knows the horrors that await.
Paperback, 170 pages
Published April 12th 2004 by Puffin Books (first published 1988)
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Emily I went to a K-12 school and every year they made the7th graders (12, 13, & 14 years old) read the book as a way to introduce the Holocaust. Then…moreI went to a K-12 school and every year they made the7th graders (12, 13, & 14 years old) read the book as a way to introduce the Holocaust. Then it would be discussed in both History and English class for a few weeks. Also another thing was that it was a choice between this book (The Devil's Arithmetic) or Daniel's Story. Most girls choose this book while most boys chose Daniel's story.(less)
Kat It's explained in the book, why the title is "The Devil's Arithmetic." The death of each Jew is added to the Devil's abacus. Some lived longer than…moreIt's explained in the book, why the title is "The Devil's Arithmetic." The death of each Jew is added to the Devil's abacus. Some lived longer than others, and others were sentenced to death upon their arrival to the camp. One's life sacrificed to save another's. In the book, she also refers to it as being the days of survival in the concentration camp added up, one by one. (less)
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I wish I could say I liked this book. I thought I would. I know it's critically acclaimed and a well-known story. But it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

The book is meant to educate young people about the Holocaust, but it had a lot of historical inaccuracies. The idyllic shtetl world at the beginning of Chaya's story would have been long gone by 1942 -- by that time, all the Jews left alive in Poland were in ghettos, in concentration camps or in hiding. Lublin, the place Chaya supposedly c
This semester I am requiring my students to read The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, a novel takes place in Poland during World War II. The good news is that my students love the book; in fact, several of them are reading ahead.

The shocking fact, the bad news, is what they don’t know. It is not just knowledge of history that they lack; it is knowledge of basic geography.

God bless PowerPoint and blackboard.

To be fair, my students do ask intelligent questions, yet the lack of basic knowledge i
Twelve year old Hannah is sick of spending Passover 'remembering' the past with her relatives. During the Passover Seder, she is transported to 1942 Poland, where she becomes Chaya (her Hebrew name), the girl she was named for. In this time, she is eventually sent to a concentration camp, where the bulk of the story takes place. Throughout the book, she struggles with memory - which memories are real (the future or the now), remembering anything b/c of the trauma of the camp, futilely trying to ...more
Sep 09, 2008 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone -- but especially teenagers that think they are the center of the universe! ;)
Recommended to Becky by: Thrift store find
I wasn't really sure what to make of this book when I first saw it, but after having read it, I would say that I am glad that I did.

This is one of those books that really makes you look at things from a different perspective. I can relate to Hannah, because I remember being 13 and having little patience with traditions and customs, and just wanting to hang out with my friends.

But given the experience Hannah had, she was able to see things in a new way, and was granted a gift, even though it wa
Lisa Vegan
Jun 20, 2008 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody at least 12 and up
This is a marvelous book for young adults, although I wouldn’t recommend it as their first introduction to the holocaust because it portrays the atrocities committed in a starkly realistic way. And, unlike some young adult books that I enjoyed as young as nine or ten years old, I wouldn’t give this to kids until they were at least 12.

It is a wonderful story and, because the main character, an American Jewish girl who’s 12 years old, is from the present time (even though the book was written twen
Hmm... I've had this on my wishlist for years but I can't help but feel a little bit underwhelmed now that I've finally read it. I think if I had this kind of book in my life as a teenager, I'd have felt more towards it. I really liked the idea and themes, and I can see why it's studied in schools. I just personally didn't feel too strongly towards it and the characters, and I don't think it's going to have as lasting an impact on me as other stories like this sadly.

(I have no idea what to rate
Lars Guthrie
Dec 13, 2008 Lars Guthrie rated it really liked it
Yolen employs a "Magic Tree House" trope to move her main character, Hannah, a bored American thirteen-year-old at her family's Seder dinner, through time, space and language, and it comes off as hokey. Once Hannah becomes Chaya, an orphan living in a Polish village in 1942, though, this tale grabs onto the reader and doesn't let go. Hannah opens the door of her family's apartment to welcome the prophet Elijah and is soon crammed into a crowded cattle car with other Jews on a train destined for ...more
Feb 17, 2009 Kim rated it it was amazing
Summary: When Hannah opens the door during Passover Seder to symbolically welcome the profit Elijah, she suddenly finds herself in the unfamiliar world of a Polish village i the 1940's. Hannah had always complained about listening about listening to her relatives tell the same stories of the Holocaust over and over, but now she finds herself in terrifying situation. The Nazi soldiers have come to take the villagers away, and Hannah can guess where they are going.

Response: I loved this book. Bei
Nov 22, 2008 Lindsey rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lindsey by: My children's lit professor
Anyone and everyone should read this book! It's a very fast read because it was written for children but it tells a beautiful story and has a great twist in the end. The Devil's Arithmetic is about a young Jewish girl who doesn't quite understand her family's past. She finds Jewish holidays and celebrations to be boring and is unappreciative of the hardships Jews have faced. She is mysteriously transported to the past and ends up in a concentration camp. Here she suffers the hardships first hand ...more
Dec 29, 2008 Loralee rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 11, 2009 Janette rated it it was amazing
I usually read to avoid hearing about depressing subjects but I went ahead and read this one even though it was about a Jewish girl living during WW2.

It was a good book, and I got choked up in the end. Then I couldn't get to sleep at night because I was too busy pondering how civilized societies are capable of butchering millions of people. It seems so impossible, and yet it's happened more than once in history.

It makes you look at your friends and neighbors and wonder what sort of hearts of da
Ayanna Dukes
May 20, 2014 Ayanna Dukes rated it it was amazing
So, during school (L.A) we're learning about World War II and the Holocaust, I've always wanted to learn more about both topics. My teacher suggested this book to me, and I'm happy that she did. I've never, so far, read a book like this in my life. First of all, this was the first Holocaust book I've read. I just love how this book starts and ends, sort of like a circular ending. Most books wont make me shed tears but this one did. I think it was amazing that Hannah the main character, got to go ...more
Apr 30, 2015 Luthien rated it really liked it
Giving this book a star rating and a review feels…strangely inappropriate. No piece of literature is above critique, of course, but after I finished this one, I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me a little. Though it wasn’t flawless, but deconstructing it for a full-fledged review didn’t feel like a constructive exercise. . There are undoubtedly small inaccuracies which older readers, in particular, might find frustrating, but the spirit of the book matters more to me given the themes and ...more
Alex Baugh
Apr 06, 2012 Alex Baugh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
Since tonight is the first night of Passover, I thought I would review a book that is appropriate to the season. I chose The Devil's Arithmetic because, like the Passover story, it is also about the importance of remembering who you are and where you came from.

Hannah Stern, 12 but almost 13, is a happy girl living in New Rochelle with her parents and little brother, except that she doesn't want to go to her family's Passover Seder. Bored and apathetic, Hannah is tired of hearing her grandfather
Dec 04, 2008 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heather, Susan
Recommended to Sara by: Elizabeth
This was really sad and scary. But so REALISTIC!! It's terrifying to think that it acually would happen! (Not the time traveling, the concentration camp.)

It is about a Jewish girl, Hannah, who is at a passover dinner, when she goes through a door and finds herself in 1942. Everyone knows who she is except herself. They think she is an orphan girl called Chaya, which is what her name is in some language. She makes five friends; Rachel, Shirfre, Ester, Yente, and Rivka. Rachel and Yente die on t
Jun 03, 2010 Echo rated it really liked it
Hannah is tired of her family's passover celebration. It's always the same every year, with the old people talking about concentration camps and the war and how important it is to remember, even though it all happened so long ago. Hannah just wants to be like other girls who get to eat candy and decorate Christmas trees and go shopping. But when Hannah is chosen to open the door to welcome the prophet Elijah as part of the celebration, she finds herself transported to another time and another co ...more
Will Devane
Jun 16, 2016 Will Devane rated it did not like it
It was a pretty boring book. It took a while to get good and when it did get good it wasn't all that great, and it didn't last that long. Overall, it was an ok book.
Jun 16, 2016 Sara rated it it was amazing
What a good story. What a good reminder.

So often we get caught up in the busyness of daily life, and we forget. We forget that there has been so much suffering. And while it's not the same type of suffering, there are people all around us that are tormented in one way or another, and that need our empathy and sympathy.

As Winston Churchill is quoted as saying "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it", I ask: what will we learn if we choose to not study and choose to forge
Kayla Vandehey
May 15, 2014 Kayla Vandehey rated it really liked it
Do you ever find yourself being sick of remembering? That's exactly how Hannah feels while she's on her way to visit her relatives for Passover Seder, complaining that remembering is boring. But she is in for a lot more than she expects for this Holiday. During the Passover dinner Hannah is chosen by her grandpa to go welcome the Prophet Elijah, but instead after walking through the door she is transported to a small Polish village. Everyone there claims her name is Chaya, which is her Hebrew na ...more
Mar 29, 2014 Kayla rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Clarissa Johnson
Jun 26, 2016 Clarissa Johnson rated it liked it
I would have much more enjoyed this book had I read it in middle school or even high school. While it is too simply put for me now, I think it would have hit me hard as a preteen/teenager, and I definitely would suggest it to a younger crowd.
Sep 17, 2015 Jake rated it it was amazing
Would Die For a Friend

The Devil's Arithmetic was a very interesting book to read because of the unique character development and the clever concept.

This book focuses on a Jewish girl named Hannah who was transported back to the time of the Holocaust in a Polish village. After her village was caught by Nazi solders, they were taken to concentration camps where she saw many horrible things. The only way she managed to survive mentally was with the help of the new friends she made that supported an
Andrea Kulman
Feb 24, 2009 Andrea Kulman rated it it was amazing
This book captivated me from beginning to end. The story flowed as if a conductor were actually standing before an entire band conducting a piece of music from Mozart. Such a strong story.
Mar 27, 2015 Hyejun rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-read
*Note: For people who are interested in reading this book, I suggest you should read this slowly.
Hannah is exhausted of remembering. When she falls into a world she never thought she would be in, remembering was just an option.
I thought this book had a lot of suspense. Especially how the writer, Jane Yolen, puts it all together. The mood change is perfect. The only thing I was disappointed was the ending. I felt like the book was in rush after stacking up all the suspense. The ending was a bit a
Feb 29, 2016 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Before I got more than a couple chapters in, all I could think of was the famous quote from George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And as I read more and more all I could think was a slight change to that quote that I made, "Those who do not care about the past are condemned to repeat it."

At the beginning, Hannah doesn't care about the past nor does she want to remember and throughout the story she realizes why she should, and why she needs to.

I won't
Oct 27, 2014 Christina rated it liked it
This story was emotionally moving. It follows a young girl named Hannah Stern, who is rather unhappy that she has to attend Passover Seder at her grandparents. She doesn't particularly understand or connect with her Grandpa Will, a Holocaust survivor, who always mentions his past or does weird antics because of the trauma he suffered. She was chosen to open the door to welcome the prophet Elijah, but when she opens the door, she finds herself in the past in 1942 Poland. Strangely enough, Hannah ...more
L11_Ryanne Szydlik
Mar 06, 2011 L11_Ryanne Szydlik rated it it was amazing
Devil's Arithmetic was a powerful story told from a young girl's point of view. Hannah is attending her family's passover celebration with much disinterest. She can not understand why the elders in her family are so serious with the various traditions during passover. This year she is chosen to be the family member that must go to the door to see if the prophet Elijah was coming. Instead of Elijah, Hannah is brought back to the time period when WWII is just beginning. Hannah's comfortable life o ...more
Mar 03, 2013 Tatiana rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 6th grade and up
The last thing Hannah Stern wants to do is remember. The 12-year-old Jewish girl is bored by her relatives’ stories about the horrors they experienced during the Holocaust. Hannah doesn’t even want to be at Passover Seder, but she plays along with the tedious traditions and opens a hallway door to symbolically welcome in the prophet, Elijah. The action transports her into a village in Poland. The year is 1942, during the height of World War II. Here, Hannah is known as Chaya Abramowicz, an orpha ...more
Hannah, a young Jewish girl, has gone to see her family, but this is not all she sees. In the beginning of the book, Hannah does not understand the importance of her religion and how it should affect her life in the present day. As opening the, what I call, "the gate to the past," she sees goes back in time and tries to understand what the past was like for her ancestors and the other people just like her. She sees the Holocaust flash right before her eyes and she slowly begins to realize why he ...more
Apr 30, 2013 JoBeth rated it really liked it
I like the book because it was exciting because Hannah went back in the past to Poland during the World War II. The ending was sweet because Hannah and her Aunt Eva started to talk about when Aunt Eva was in the camps.
I didn’t like the book because I wanted the book to get to the point. I thought it took too long to find out if Hannah would go back to the future to New Rochelle.
Characters: Hannah lives with her parent and brother. She is Jewish girl and some of her family members were in the H
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more
More about Jane Yolen...

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“You are a name, not a number. Never forget that name, whatever they tell you here. You will always be Chaya—life—to me.” 30 likes
“We all have such stories. It is a brutal arithmetic. But I - I am alive. You are alive. As long as we breathe, we can see and hear. As long as we can remember, all those gone before are alive inside us.” 24 likes
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