Deb 's Reviews > The Devil's Arithmetic

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
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's review
Feb 12, 11

bookshelves: 2011-books-read, middle-school-kids-ya-books, professional-reading
Read in February, 2011 — I own a copy

I had read this book a number of years ago, but I re-read it as preparation for our 7th grade Holocaust unit. This will one of the books used in our lit circle groups. It's Passover and Hannah's family is celebrating their seder with their extended family in New Rochelle, NY. Twelve-year old Hannah is fed up with the ritual and the constant insistence on "remembering". When she opens the door to welcome Elijah, she is transported in time to 1942, to a small village in Poland. She finds herself in the persona of Chaya, an orphan recovering from a grave illness, now living with relatives. As her new family travels to a wedding, they are caught up in a sweep of Jews, and are taken to a death camp. As the story unfolds, Chaya/Hannah learn how to survive in the camp, and she comes to understand just why it is so important to remember what happened. As a work of historical fiction, Jane Yolen does a superbly sensitive job of describing the horror and degradation of life in the concentration camps. It is a disturbing book, but it's the kind of disturbance that adolescents need to experience.

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