Catherine's Reviews > The Devil's Arithmetic

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
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's review
Jan 27, 2011

really liked it

This is another book my practicum teacher is using for his class. I'd never read it before, so I didn't really know anything about it besides the fact that it was about the holocaust, which I learned from the cover. I now love this time-traveling story, though, and think it is a great choice for seventh graders. It's a hard topic, of course, and the book doesn't shy away from horrifying the reader. It's a powerful reminder of the human race's potential for evil. However, the reading level is great for middle schoolers, and the main character's perceptions of the events make the story understandable and relatable. The character's name is Hannah, a 20th century girl, and she is frustrated with her crazy grandfather. He was a victim of the concentration camps, and Hannah doesn't understand why he won't let the past go, why the events of the 40s are still so potent in his mind. During the Passover Seder, however, Hannah is transported back to World War II Poland, and almost immediately brought to a concentration camp with her "family". There Hannah comes to understand her grandfather's pain and learns about the importance of remembering.

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