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Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  3,962 ratings  ·  648 reviews
During World War II, Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker, organized a rescue network of fellow social workers to save 2,500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto. Incredibly, after the war her heroism, like that of many others, was suppressed by communist Poland and remained virtually unknown for 60 years. Unknown, that is, until three high ...more
Paperback, 396 pages
Published March 28th 2011 by Long Trail Press (first published June 1st 2005)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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 ·  3,962 ratings  ·  648 reviews

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Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's always a beautiful thing to behold when a teacher inspires his or her students to overcome crippling obstacles and exalt in academic discovery and what perhaps I loved most about this extremely moving book was this theme. We never quite know who we are until we're inspired and if we're lucky enough to find an individual who provides this inspiration then the content of beauty in our lives is increased tenfold.

Kansas 1999: Liz Cambers is in 6th grade and a notorious troublemaker at school.
Beth Pearson
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is one of those "Important Books" that reminds me that most of what I read is total fluff and unworthy of precious time. Not that I am going to stop reading my drivel but just a reminder that there are amazing people, things, lives out there that I know nothing about. While this is a true story set among Poland during the holocaust, it is not a depressing book. At least not to me, who already has read, learned, and thought a lot about that time in history so the facts and statistics were ...more
John Vibber
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I don't begin to understand why this book isn't a widely-read best seller. It should be!

If I had to pick only one book to illustrate the best and worst of humanity, this would be it. The Holocaust holds an immensely painful lesson, but one that humanity can ill-afford not to re-teach. This book balances that pain with inspiration and discovery. It is the most remarkable story of heroism I have ever read. At the same time, it is the compelling story of three wonderful Kansas teens who scoop
Kate MacKinnon
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, history
This was a very good read. I canot give it 5 stars as there (in my humble opinion) was too much about the 3 teens that brought this story to light where my interest lay in Irena Sendler and her story itself. I also found the teens portion "preachy" which automatically deducts a star for me.

However - do not let that diminish how much I enjoyed this book.

The book was set in three parts - the teens coming across the story and setting in motion their amazing journey, then Irena's story of her time
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book. It tells the story of a Catholic social worker (Irena Sendler) who smuggled 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto. She was a minor footnote in Holocaust history until three teens from a small town in Kansas decided to write a play about her for a history day project. The book also tells the story of the teens and their research.

As someone else said it's not a book to read in public as it has many parts at which one is likely to get very choked up. I was
emma grace
Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it
This was an amazing story, written in a really, really dull way. This book was over 350 pages, and unfortunately, it probably could have been cut down by half and you still would have gotten the story. That is alot of fluff. It was really too bad, because, as I said before, the whole Life in a Jar/Irena Sendler story was amazing and very inspiring.
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thank goodness the library sent "Life in a Jar" back to me today. I'm back reading it again and continued to be totally fascinated.
Now that I've finally finished reading "Life in a Jar", I have to say I'm totally "blown away" with the story of Irena Sendler, as well as the project that the 3 High School students put together. This is one of those books which should be required reading for everyone. I encourage you to take the time and read it.
Melody Wilson
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am a freshman in High-school, we did a play on Irena Sendler, in my 2011-2012 school year. Learning and hearing more about her I got interested and went out and got this book, it's like one of those books you NEED to read.

Knowing and learning that a brave young women like Irena Sendler would go out and risk her life to save thousands of children. Reading this book out a huge opening in my heart for the love of children.

One thing she quoted was,
I was brought up to believe that a person must
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Katie by: Mom
Shelves: non-fiction
I could not put this book down (after I made it through Part 1 - which was a little slow).
This book is very well written and is a phenomenal true story. Irene Sendler saved more Jews than Oscar Schindler, but is not as well known.

This book is broken up into three parts: Part 1 - Three high schoolers from Kansas begin a National History Day project on an unknown Irena Sendler. Part 2 - Irena Sendler's story. Part 3 - The girls meeting Irena and the aftermath of the Irena Sendler Project.

Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have waited to try and write a review for this book. I don't know how to really. How is it that I can have been actively reading biographies from Holocaust survivors for over fifteen years, how is it that I can still "hear" and learn things that I didn't know?
I learned of this book from an amazing and wonderful Facebook page that I recommend to everyone, A mighty girl. They had an article on Irena Sendler. I had never heard of her and went looking for the book.
This women and her handful of
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii-holocaust
This was an amazing story, both of the woman who did incredible and daring rescue work in Poland and the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, and of the three girls who brought her story to the world. Irena Sendler saved 2500 Jewish children, street orphans and from families, by smuggling them out of the ghetto, into safe houses, giving them Christian names on forged papers and sending them on to other homes, abbeys and orphanages. She saved a list of these children's identities in milk bottles buried under ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Deyanne by: Candy
Shelves: bookclub, holocaust
I did not have a holocaust shelf until entering this book. Why? I have read so many books dealing with the holocaust and I taught Night. This novel was moving in that Irena Sendlar saved 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto and yet she was virtually unknown. The back of the book reads: "Unknown, that is, until three high school girls from an economically depressed, rural school district in south-east Kansas stumbled unopn a tantalizing reference to Sendler's rescues, which they fashioned into ...more
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.25. Irena Sendler was an unsung Polish heroine who rescued nearly 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto. Yet, no one had really heard of her in the 50+ years since WWII ended. In 1999, 3 Kansas students uncover her story and bring it to light through a play, Life in a Jar. The book is written in 3 parts: the first about the students learning about Irena and her heroics and performing her story in a play; the second set during WWII when Irena was smuggling children out the the ghetto; and ...more
Rhonda Ruff
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing women. Amazing story. That’s all that needs to be said. Other than read it
Jennifer Swapp
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A quote from the book can give an idea of the amazing feat accomplished by this network.
"The mathematics of rescue was severe. To save one Jewish child, 10 poles and two Jews had to risk death. To betray that same child and the family that hid him required only one informer or worse still, one blackmailer. The risk of being caught by the SS was not prison, but death- death for the entire family".

This book was a beautiful accounting of triumph over terribly painful, tragic circumstances. Most
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I saw a blurb about this woman, Irena Sendler, floating around on Facebook several months ago. I was curious about her and after looking around I found this book. I gave this book 5 stars for the part about Irena Sendler. Hers was an AMAZING story that needs to be told. She was Polish Catholic social worker that smuggled 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during WW2. She placed the children with "foster" families, convents and orphanages, and kept lists of who she put where, so that ...more
Deborah Pickstone
Second book on Irena Sendler recently. I guess it is quite amazing how some people just set out to do the right thing. There are hardly anyone now who really knows what went on but Irena was not Jewish but still felt it important to save as many children as she could. Many years later she said ".....understanding does not erase the regret I feel for my own insufficient efforts. I agree with Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.....'only the dead have done enough.' ".

I can't say I would be so brave; I hope I
Dawn Hough
If you are thinking about whether or not to read this book, please ... pick up the book - you won't regret it but be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster ride! One of the highest ratings I've ever seen here on Goodreads- and for good reason. This factual account first looks at a group of school girls in Kansas investigating a holocaust hero of which there is very little known. The book then moves into the time of the holocaust where their heroine lives through the terror of war torn Warsaw, ...more
Inga Anderson
Dec 08, 2017 rated it liked it
An impressive story about a polish woman who saved 2500 children during the 2nd world war. The other interesting aspect is how her name wasn't really known in the world until 3 girls from Kansas created a play about her and started researching more in 1999.
The book is very detailed and it describes the time in the war when Irena and her group were smuggling children out of the Jewish ghetto in Poland. I felt that the book was too long for my liking and the writing wasn't really getting me into
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker with the code name Jolanta, saved 2,500 Jewish children from death during WWII in the Warsaw Ghetto by organizing a rescue network, and by being part of an underground conspiracy group ZEGOTA. She would beg Jewish mothers to relinquish their children to her so that she could bring them to safety. Why did she put herself and other at such risk when so many Poles looked the other way and refused to defy the barbaric Nazis? She explained that it was ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Terri Lynn
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Though it is labeled fiction, that is only due to the fact that the author re-created conversations based on the memories of those who spoke. All of the facts and events are true. Irena Sendler was a Polish social worker from a Christian family who helped rescue and hide 2,500 Jewish people, mostly children, from the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII. She risked her life and in fact wound up in prison sentenced to death. She should have been as well known as Oskar Schindler who saved 1,000 but she was ...more
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly powerful story about the Polish Catholic social worker, Irena Sendler, who saved 3000 Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto during the holocaust, and also the story of the three Protestant teenagers from Kansas who discovered this remarkable heroic story and brought it to the world's attention. This is a harrowing history of what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust and shows how ordinary people took life threatening risks to save others. The parallel story of ...more
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm trying to figure out why I have never heard of Irena Sendler, and how hatred, bigotry and racism can still exist. Can anyone read this and still feel enmity for another human? This was such a difficult and depressing read, but with an important message. Through bearing witness to such atrocity, we have a chance to prevent it from happening again. When something is wrong, horribly, evilly wrong, you must act to make it stop. I loved the Native American parable of the two wolves that live ...more
Brenda Dolha
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A story brought to light by a very innovative history/social studies program, in a small Kansas school. I selected this book at the museum shop- the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC. The musem's slogan is 'remember what you saw', and the message is that genocide did not cease on VE Day. The story of Irena Sendler and her network came to life to three students and their teacher/advisor, and continues to inhabit them, as it does for this reader.
Cindy S
Feb 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A semi-documentary story of Irena Sendler, a Polish Christian who rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto, at great risk to herself. Her story was uncovered by a group of mid western high school students researching a project for their History class. Out of their research, they created a play "Life in a Jar", that they have presented all over the world. This is an inspirational story of the difference one person can make in history.
I am reading this now - not quite done. This is an amazing story about a WWII hero that was never really internationally recognized until this book came out. She smuggled 2500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, many of them infants. It is written a little too detailed and slow for me but man what an amazing thing one human being can do!!!
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very important story to not be forgotten.
The writing style is geared for teens but the story is timeless and is a must-read. I miss reading it already.
Jessica Douglas
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ok so I don't do non fiction. But OMG I couldn't put this book down and seriously just ordered the DVD and thinking a trip to San Antonio to see he play may very well be in my future.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow. As other readers have noted, it’s difficult to believe that there’s so much I didn’t know about the Holocaust after reading about it all my life. First is the obvious: the very existence of Irene Sendler, and the amazing feats she – and her incredible network - were able to perform. Then there are the details of the daily “Decrees” which lend a day-by-day horror to the indignities and cruelties suffered by Jews and citizens in general. It’s difficult to imagine human beings being so ...more
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Jack Mayer is a pediatrician and a writer. He began practicing pediatrics in 1976 in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, a small town in eastern Franklin County on the Canadian border. His was the first pediatric practice in that half of the county. He was a country doctor there for ten years, often bartering medical care for eggs, firewood, and knitted afghans. From 1987 – 1991 Dr. Mayer was a National ...more
“You see a man drowning, you must try to save him even if you cannot swim.” 25 likes
“Every time you walk into church, the first thing you see is a man on a cross. He died to save us-not to give us everything we want-to save us. That's what's so hard to understand. It's not about him answering your prayers-it's about you being like him not matter what happens on this Earth. 'Thy will be done.' There will always be sadness and pain.” 6 likes
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