John's Reviews > The Devil's Arithmetic

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
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Hannah doesn't want to go to the Passover Seder with her great uncle and aunt. They behave weirdly, getting upset at strange things. She just wants to get the night over with as quickly as possible. So, she volunteers to open the door for Elijah to get the whole thing over faster. But, opening the door, she finds herself in a new world, a shtetl in Poland in the early 1940s. How will she get home? What will happen to her if she stays?

Yolen tells an effective tale of the Holocaust. Although I don't think it all adds up, sending her main character to live the events of the Holocaust, allows her readers to experience the horrors without having to deal with it first hand, since we know the main character will make it out. At least, I did. That said, it was an effective book, making the camp survivable (to a degree), but also conveying the terrible daily struggle to avoid attention and make it through. Also an effective case for the bravery of suffering greatly. A fine homage to Ms. Yolen's Jewish heritage overall.

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