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If I Should Die Before I Wake
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If I Should Die Before I Wake

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  4,321 ratings  ·  409 reviews
Hilary hates Jews. As part of a neo-Nazi gang in her town, she's finally found a sense of belonging. But when she's critically injured in an accident, everything changes.
Somehow, in her mind, she has become Chana, a Jewish girl fighting for her own life in the ghettos and concentration camps of World War II.
Han Nolan offers powerful insight into one young woman's survival
Paperback, 293 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published March 31st 1994)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,321 ratings  ·  409 reviews

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Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club, favorites
In If I Should Die Before I Wake, two girls’ lives are forever connected when they themselves couldn’t be more opposite. Hilary hates every Jewish person on the face of the earth. Part of a neo-Nazi gang, she is actively looking for a way to kill every Jewish person who lives. This is happening about 60 years after World War II. When Hilary and her boyfriend are riding home on a motorcycle in the rain, they crash violently into the car of another. Hilary’s boyfriend leaves with only a few bruise ...more
Alex  Baugh
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
Hilary Burke, 16, is an angry girl. She is angry at her mother for not being there for her while she was a child. And she is angry at her father for dying when she was 5. Hilary blames his death on his Jewish boss, believing that he skimped on construction material causing the building her father worked in to collapse. So she is angry at all Jews and has focused it on her Jewish neighbors including their son, Simon Schulmann, for being part of a happy, close family.

To deal with all this anger,
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my classroom bulletin boards features this book and The Book Thief side by side as recommended WWII fiction.

I go crazy over WWII stories. I've been to Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam. It was so cramped and crowded. I loved teaching Elie Wiesel's Night until it moved down to the ninth grade curriculum. Mostly I think my reading obsession comes from disbelief. The disbelief that humanity could be so cruel, and despite overwhelming evidence, some still say the Holocaust was all made up.

How d
Ruby  Tombstone Lives!
If you are reading this, I am deleted. Or you have nothing more urgent to do.

At some point soon, I will have to sleep. I haven't been doing much of that as late. This has been mostly out of concern for what's happening on GoodReads (and the 17 hour time difference between the site and myself). Every night when I go to bed, I wonder how much of my account will be remaining when I log on in the morning.

As I write this, the curlews outside are shrieking persistently. If you've never heard a curlew
Morgan F
Possibly my favorite book about the Holocaust. I actually bought this at the Holocaust museum in D.C. It was a moving experience.
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
For some reason, I expected this book to be more about Hillary and less about Chana. I felt a little left out of Hillary’s story, the life of a neo-Nazi. We learn snips of her life, parts of her past, but never really see the whole picture and while I certainly recognize the need to tell Chana’s story of being a Jew during WWII, I felt as if leaving Hillary out of the book so often made her sudden change from hateful to kindhearted a little sudden and somewhat unbelievable. I doubted that someon ...more
Amy Hustead
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really great read and I'm saddened I took this long to read it! Should be a must read for high schoolers for sure!

The story as a whole makes you realize that no matter how bad I think I have it, someone somewhere else has had it worse. This is a great book to teach kids how to appreciate differences in religion/race/etc.
4 stars!

A very unique book that uses time travel to change a girls perspective on the horrors and atrocities inflicted on the Jewish nation during WW2. This is a quick read, but it packs a very big emotional punch. Read with my teenage daughters for our book club, this is an amazing book for mature teens and up.
Melissa Delatorre
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I believe everyone should be treated right like everybody else.this historical fiction book is very sad at a point.

It takes place in the civil war time at night and morning because then we know where they are at.Hilary a 16 year old wanted to kill all the Jews alive but she is critically injured in an accident and everything changes. So Hilary has become Chana with a different family. Then she us a Jewish girl fighting for her life in World War ll. the conflict is person vs person because Cha
Alexandra Carpenter
I almost wish this would've been written solely as a plain holocaust novel. The Hilary plot that lay over Chana's story was completely pointless -- even frustrating -- until those last few pages. And it was certainly not worth the wait, it was just confusing. Additionally, I picked up this book expecting more details of Hilary's Neo-Nazi involvement, and on the rare occasions that it was brought up, the activities of the Neo-Nazi group were laughable. Locking Jewish kids in lockers, and slashing ...more
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Book: If I Should Die Before I Wake.
Author: Han Nolan

I like this book because I believe everybody should be treated right even if ur are different religions that person is also a human. Nobody should tortured the way she did, everybody is different you can’t judge nobody unless you don’t change yourself. We are all different, we all have our own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live in harmony, it just takes work. You should never judge another person in any way because you can never full
Phillip Argall
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I suggest this book because it shows hardship and truth. In the book "If I Should Die Before I wake" it talks about Hilary, a Neo-Nazi who despises the Jewish people. Though when she gets in a motorcycle accident her life is turned upside down as she battles death in a Jewish hospital. Then Hilary starts to blackout, and see's life not through her eye's, but through those of Chana, a Jewish girl in the second World War. I recommend it because this book doesn't cheat you with clichè's like "Love ...more
Alexxa Reynolds
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, i-own, history
This book is one of my favorite ones about WW2! I got it from my sister who passed away a few years ago so I treasure it. It has good voice and makes everything personal. Very cleaver too!
Celia Buell
I must admit, it's been forever since I read a Holocaust book. If I Should Die Before I Wake was definitely a good place to start.

The story follows Hilary, a member of a neo-Nazi gang in her town, right after she has a motorcycle accident and is in a coma. While she is in intensive care at a Jewish hospital, she begins to live the life of a girl named Chana, a Jewish teenager in the Holocaust.

I really liked the way author Han Nolan created the parallels between the two timelines. Though most of
May 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Since I had to read this for a class, I didn't like it as much as the other books I had to read for class. This one was hard to get into, but the character switches didn't give me any trouble. I don't remember the book ever going into much detail about why Hilary hates the Jews except that her father was killed because of the supposed dirty trading his possibly Jewish boss might have been involved in. Her anger at her mother is evident in the dialogue because readers learn that her mother abando ...more
If I Should Die Before I Wake is a book about not judging others until you've been in their shoes and known their suffering. It's about a teenage girl who joins a neo-Nazi group and spends her time hating and tormenting Jewish members of her community. When Hillary is in a motorcycle accident and lies comatose in a Jewish hospital, the only thing she sees is an old woman staring at her knowingly. Somehow, through this old woman, she is taken back in time to another life where she is a young Jewi ...more
Oct 09, 2009 rated it liked it
I have read a number of books specifically on the Holocaust, so reading about the torture and the horrible things these people had to go through was nothing new to me. Yet even as I read it, I still got chills every time Hilary/Chana would describe some horrible act. This book didn’t go into much detail about the torture the Jews faced in the camps, at least not compared to pervious books I have read, but if you know anything about the Holocaust and what the Jews faced everyday of their lives, y ...more
Alex Goins
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
If I should die before I wake by Han Nolan, This book is about a teenage girl named Hilary who is part of a Neo-Nazi gang and her experiences as a little girl named Chana in poland during the holocaust while she is in a coma. In her gang (The Great Warriors) everyone in the gang hates jews and Hilary believes that only her boyfriend and the gang understand her. When Hillary becomes Chana and has to go through all the hardships she faced being a jewish girl in poland she realizes that other peop ...more
Sep 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan is a book about not judging others until you've been in their shoes and known their suffering. It's about a teenage girl who joins a neo-Nazi group and spends her time hating and tormenting Jewish members of her community. When Hillary is in a motorcycle accident and lies comatose in a Jewish hospital, the only thing she sees is an old woman staring at her knowingly. Somehow, through this old woman, she is taken back in time to another life where she is ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: high-school, poland
Loved how the neo-Nazi current times and the Jewish experience in a concentration camp were lived by the same character... and the explanation for that in the end. I've always loved these types of stories where you're not sure which reality is reality or where the character will end up. Well-written, and realistic enough that it gave me nightmares. ...more
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I loved how this changed someone to be something better.
Emily Noble
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriftbooks, fiction
This book had potential, but I think it was ruined by Hilary's perspective. The way she narrated seemed so... researched, fake, plastic. I'm not sure those are the right words to describe it but there was something about her inner monologue that was just off. The book focused mostly on Chana's life, with minimal flashes to Hilary's state in the hospital. We never really got to see any real growth from Hilary and it seemed like she just jumped from neo-Nazi to Jew supporter without any real refle ...more
Jaonna Miller
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
September/October Review
Book Title: If I Should Die Before I Wake
Author:Han Nolan
Review: If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan was a great book.I loved this book because the book seemed so real like every piece of it was true.This story took place in a jewish hospital, Poland, and a slaughterhouse at Auschwitz.This is a story about a girl named Hilary who hates Jews but ends up taking on another life of a jewish girl named Chana after going unconscious from an accident. During this time Hil
Erin Despain
Apr 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Actually giving the book 3.5 stars.

I liked the story of Chana (a Jewish girl in WWII) a lot. But I really didn't enjoy the back and forth between her and Hilary (a modern day Neo-Nazi). When I first started the book I hadn't read a summary beforehand so the first chapter (about Hilary) really took me by surprise. But even after understanding what the author was trying to do, I didn't like it. I wished I could just skip over those chapters. I think I would've liked the book more as a whole if it
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone into the Holocaust or relationships
Recommended to Art by: Diana Stewart
WOW! What a book! I thought of "The Devil's Arithmetic" Jane Yolen, and Corrie Ten Boom's book, "the Hiding Place".
Good look at Neo-Nazi, young love and love of a parent for a child.
Along w/scriptures that tell of the previous suffering of the Jewish people.
I thought at first the way Nolan used 1st first conversation and thought was disconcerting, however once I was into the story, I thought this mode worked well. Stream of Conciousnessis the term I believe.
very well put together, I thought and
Rj O
Sep 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Book Title: If I Should Die Before I Wake
Author:Han Nolan
Review: I read if i should die before I wake by Han Nolan this was a book about a girl named Hilary and she was in a motorcycle accident and while she’s in the hospital she thinks she is a girls named chana growing up in the neo-nazi times in Poland. I did not like this book because i just didn’t find much interest in the book the book kind of got me lost from time to time. i would recommend this book to anyone who has good patience for
Jan 07, 2016 rated it liked it
I would consider this book some sort of confusing because it takes place in modern day and the past. I would recommend this book for seventh grade and older because of the language used. The book is a little boring but once you get further into it the story becomes more intense. "If I Die Before I Wake" is a story about Hilary Burke who is a troubled teenage girl that is apart of a Neo-Nazi gang. Hilary thinks she's found herself ,ever since her grandma and dad died, by joining this organization ...more
May 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school

This book is THE MOST INSPIRING STORY I HAVE EVER READ! I absolutely loved this book. The way it changes the pov is amazing and it really draws the reader in. I recommend this book for EVERYONE! (Especially people who like historical fiction or emotional stories) Warning: parts of this book are sadder than "The Notebook" :) Enjoy:)
Joyce Karen Valdez
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It really reminds me of what the Neo-Nazis era was. I've felt the pain that Hilary and Chana were experiencing because of the smooth phasing and transition of the story. I could not also stop reading this book because I'm already waiting for the next thing that will happen to the characters where cruelty and brutality are present. Great deliberation of the story and strong characters are present! ...more
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Death Camps 2 13 Apr 05, 2012 10:11AM  

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Han Nolan is widely acclaimed for her evocative language, her gritty subject matter, and her ability to plumb the psyche of her characters. Her books include Dancing on the Edge, which won the National Book Award, Send Me own a Miracle, a finalist for the National Book Award, Born Blue, A Summer of Kings, and several other acclaimed novels. She and her husband live on the East Coast.

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