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Words on Fire

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  3,546 ratings  ·  606 reviews
Danger is never far from Audra's family farm in Lithuania. She always avoids the occupying Russian Cossack soldiers, who insist that everyone must become Russian -- they have banned Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and even the language. But Audra knows her parents are involved in something secret and perilous.

When Cossacks arrive abruptly at their door, Audra's parent
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Scholastic Press
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  3,546 ratings  ·  606 reviews

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R.F. Gammon
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't expecting to like this book so much, man, but it was absolute perfection.

>Audra, our protagonist, is a quiet but feisty girl. She's also absolutely precious, has real goals and dreams, and is just amazing in general. She does magic tricks, makes smoke bombs, dresses up as a corpse, finds the most out-of-the-box solution to every problem, and is basically one of Nielsen's protagonists for the real world. I loved her.
>Lukas, the other main character, is a sassy little thief wh
Kim Friant
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
3 stars—
I really love Nielsen’s books, especially her historical fiction series. She does such a great job of telling the stories of some of the forgotten heroes of history and she does it with respect and style. Unfortunately, this is not my favorite of that series. It’s not a bad book by any means, I just had some issues with it. I felt a disconnect with Audra that I didn’t want to feel. She wasn’t as likable as Nielsen’s other characters. She strayed into that “idealist” territory, where a
Katie Hanna
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story about book smugglers.

Lithuania is a small country by the Baltic Sea, near Russia. It's been swallowed by the Russian empire at various times in its history. In the late 19th century, it was illegal to speak the Lithuanian language, to read books printed in Lithuanian, to teach Lithuanian in schools, or even to pray in Lithuanian in the churches. Brave men and women risked everything to smuggle books into the country to keep their beloved language alive. To defy Russian oppressio
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so masterful and beautiful and just everything good within 300 pages of AMAZINGLY GOOD AMAZINGNESS.
Anyway, I’m not making any sense so I’m just going to start ranting. Probably like 50% of people who read this review will just be like...🤨... but anywho.
I read this book in... 4 hours? Maybe? Part of that was because it was amazing but tbh, most of it was just that I was sitting at a Panera for three hours yesterday with nothing to do but read. So I read. And read.
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Middle-grade and Y.A. readers, and book- lovers everywhere!
Setting: Lithuania, 1893

How does one adequetely review a book that is so well- written that, if my eyelids hadn’t felt like lead at 2:00 a.m., I would have breathlessly continued reading until I finished it completely? A book that made me feel a wave of gratitude for the freedom I have to read any book I choose whenever I want. This one should be in every middle-grade and young adult classroom everywhere. Thank you, Jennifer Nielsen, from a person who loves books so much that she would rather re
Allyson Jamison
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: clean-ya-books
This was such a powerful book! Words are power, BOOKS are power! Don't ever let anyone take them from you.

By the end of this book I was literally crying! I felt worn out emotionally. The things people did just to get one single book was outstanding! Never, ever, take books for granted, they are a gift and we should cherish them. The next time you get bored with reading, or you ask yourself, "Why read?". Read this book.

Books are a gift.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
“How do you destroy a people? You take away their culture. And how is that done? You must take their language, their history, their very identity. How would you do that?”
I pressed my lips together, then looked up at her. “You ban their books.” (78)

Jennifer Nielsen’s newest novel takes place during the Russian occupation of Lithuania (1795-1918), specifically the time period between June and November 1893. After the January Uprising of 1863-1864, there was a forty-year ban on the Lithuanian langu
I just looked at some of the reviews and noticed that one very brilliant Goodreads reviewer mentioned that this book, WORDS ON FIRE should have received the attention given to THE BOOK THIEF (which for me a disappointment). This little book was full of exciting adventure, yet I fear might be overlooked because of its driving audience .. however, I have never known a young reader who is not willing to share their cherished books. So, let me jump in with them and exclaim, "READ THIS BOOK."

How do
Dan Curnutt
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This young adult novel is a great lesson in the struggle that many nations/people have faced in our world. Lithuania in a time of turmoil under the occupation of Russia is a place that it is not safe to speak, read or write in Lithuanian. The Russians are doing their best to eradicate a people’s culture and history. They goal to assimilate the Lithuanians into Russian life and turn them into Russians.

Why is one country always so brutal as to think that other countries ought to follow their cultu
Melissa Gravitis
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I love how it touched on an often over-looked period and place in history (especially since I have roots in a nearby country), but the writing style and characters didn't click for me. It also felt lacking in polish when it came to foreshadowing, and some twists seemed a little too convenient. Perhaps just not for me! ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this story. I am Lithuanian myself, and my family immigrated to America because of what was occurring in Lithuania (in this book). I recommend reading this, as it is easy to read and people don't know about what occurred. ...more
Susy  *MotherLambReads*
This was our first Nielen book and we LOVED it.

I loved it because the Littles were attentive and listening whenever we had to turned on. They were learning History and learning to empathize with someone and a culture so different to theirs.

The storyline follows a girl who becomes a book smuggler. Books and words are that important yes!

The Littles said it was exciting and scary.
I'm definitely looking into her other books for us.
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is about a Lithuanian girl named Audra, who lives with her parents in a house near the forest. One day, the Cossacks light up the house, so Audra has to flee with a package that her parents have given her. She decides to deliver the package and search for her parents. I like this book because it's very interesting and touching. ...more
This is the sort of historical fiction book that resonates with you. Words on Fire, as the name implies, shows how powerful words and books can be and truly were during the Soviet oppression of Lithuania. Audra’s story begins between WWI and WWII and travels with her as she learns what books mean to the people of her country and how simply gaining knowledge can help lead to freedom. During her time as a book smuggler, she helps lead a resistance of historical important a that is still today glos ...more
Diane Brown
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very good youth book about how Lithiuania fought Russian occupation, in the late 1800's-early 1900's, through books. ...more
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
"How do you destroy a people? You take away their culture. And how is that done? You must take away their language, their history, their very identity. How would you do that?"
I pressed my lips together, then looked up at her. "You ban their books."
This was a sad and fascinating look at Lithuanian history and how Russians tried to do just that. I loved Audra's journey and her bravery. From an illiterate peasant to a "book carrier" sneaking books to people to preserve their very culture. I didn'
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Book smuggling! It may not be book thieving, but I’ll take what I can get. A book about books and how words are power.
Ms. Yingling
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Audra lives with her mother and father in a small Lithuanian village in 1893. Her father is a magician and travels a great deal in order to entertain. She would like to go with him, but her mother claims it is too dangerous, making her wonder what else her father is doing. She finds out that both parents are book smugglers, but too late... the Cossacks attack, arrest her parents, and burn down the home. Audra escapes with her father's knapsack and instructions to deliver
Good historical coverage of a very interesting place and time. Solid characters.
Ok wow. First of all, this book deserves 1000 stars, but I can't really put that on here, so 5 stars will have to do. Audra is literally the bravest person in the history of brave people. She risks her own life so that others might have joy through reading. She taught me that bravery doesn't mean that you aren't ever scared, but it means that you have the courage to fight for what's right even though there are challenges. Before I read this book, I never really realized how blessed I am that I a ...more
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the BEST books I have ever read! Book smuggling, secret reading, and freedom fighting...oh my! Jennifer A. Nielsen's young adult historical fiction novel, set in late-19th century Lithuania during Russian Cossack occupation, tells the tale of a young Lithuanian girl named Audra who finds herself in the "family business" of book smuggling at a time in which Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and language are banned. Nielsen's imaginative fiction and poetic prose leaves a surprise on ever ...more
C.P. Cabaniss
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Freedom is never given as a gift; if you want it, then people will die for it."

I've been loving historical fiction this year. This story is about Audra, a young Lithuanian in the 1890's who becomes caught up in book smuggling. It's not a perfect book and Nielsen's writing doesn't flow for me as well as I would like, but there were great messages and this was overall a very good view of a part of history I knew very little about.

This is also written for a middlegrade audience, so it's an ea
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
The story of teenage Audra and an underground network of book smugglers in Lithuania in 1893. Occupying Russian Cossack soldiers insist that everyone must become Russian by banning Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and language. As she witnesses Lithuanian book burning by the Russians she thinks: "This fire smelled different from other kinds of fires. I knew it was different because it wasn't only ink and paper being consumed by the flames, but also the characters themselves, and their worlds ...more
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a good YA story that made me learn about a time in history I didn’t previously know about.

This book also made me think about the fact that throughout history there have been times where people had to fight to keep their love of books, language and stories alive. Today, we have so many books available to young people but I feel that unfortunately technology has made it so they don’t have appreciation for them.
Harley Bennett
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Audra's parents are arrested by the Russians in 1893 Lithuania and sent to Siberia. Left alone with her mother's instructions to deliver a package to a nearby village, Audra carries out this mission for her mother. She soon finds herself smuggling books into Lithuania to help the people to maintain their heritage and freedom.
This is a fantastic book with lots of danger and suspense.
This was a book I didn’t expect. I knew nothing about the time period or the events discussed. It always gives me hope to read about such courageous people who risked everything for truth. For education. For life. It makes me want to hold a little tighter and fight a little harder for those things I believe in.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tween
A well done historical novel about the book carriers in Lithuania in the early 1900’s. The book carriers helped to keep the local language and heritage alive during the Russian occupation.
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel tells part of history I knew nothing about. I loved it!
Fantasy and Felines
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books
This book was amazing! I loved the plot and the concept! The characters were amazing!
Apr 21, 2020 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars. Good for young readers.
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Jennifer lives at the base of a very tall mountain in Northern Utah with her husband, three children, and a naughty puppy. She loves the smell of rainy days, hot chocolate, and old books, preferably all at once. She is a former speech teacher, theater director, and enjoyed a brief but disastrous career as a door-to-door pollster. In her spare time, Jennifer tends to panic, wondering what she has f ...more

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“Books themselves are freedom. Freedom to think, to believe, to dream.” 5 likes
“How do you destroy a people? You take away their culture. And how is that done? You must take their language, their history, their very identity. How would you do that?” I pressed my lips together, then looked up at her. "You ban their books” 3 likes
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