Debbie's Reviews > Good Night, Maman

Good Night, Maman by Norma Fox Mazer
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Jul 20, 11

Read from July 14 to 20, 2011, read count: 1

This is a unique story in the YA Holocaust literature cannon. So many books focus on the victims, the survivors, the witnesses, and the resistors. This one book is a fictional account based on the real experiences of people who escaped to the U.S.

The history: In June 1944, FDR realized that the US had not been very good to those trying to escape Hitler, and he sent a large boat to Naples to pick them up. On the boat, about 1,000 came to America and spent the rest of the war in the old army base at Lake Oswego. The idea was to hold them safely, and then send them back to their countries, but Truman decided to give them legal visas and allow them to stay in the US.

The fictional story: In the first third of the book, Karin, her mother, and her older brother are in France, hiding from the Nazi's in a woman's attic. Eventually, they are forced from there, running from town to town as best they can. When news comes of FDR's ship, Karin and her brother get on board. The next third is their trip on the boat, and the final third is about living in the camp and getting used to English and the American people.

I liked this book. It's an easy read, with some funny parts, especially when Karin and her brother are learning English. There is some action in the first third, but it slows down considerably in the rest of the book, when the focus becomes drama with friends and her brother. Karin continues to look to the past, which is rarely happy, and to the future, which also slows down the book for a page or two at a time. However, I'd definitely recommend it to my students and would keep it in my classroom library.
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