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Words on Fire

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  460 ratings  ·  118 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen transports readers to a corner of history with this inspiring story of a girl who discovers the strength of her people united in resisting oppression.

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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Scholastic Press
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  460 ratings  ·  118 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
Joey T
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.
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
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
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
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved it! I did NOT see that ending coming. Can't wait to own.
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.
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
Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with an eARC of this title for review. All opinions are my own.

In Words on Fire Nielsen takes on the subject of Lithuania's history and struggle with Russian rule and the press ban, a time when all print items in Lithuania had to be in Russian. This was an attempt to stifle Lithuanian culture, language, heritage, history, and freedom. Audra, a young girl, lives with her parents. Her father, a magician, travels a great deal for his
Jennifer Nielsen's historical fiction rocks. I've thoroughly enjoyed her first two and was eager to read this one. It was even better than I hoped. I'd never heard of book smugglers such as are described in this book, but it makes for a compelling background for this story of Lithuanian resistance. Not only is this a powerful story of courage and friendship, but it's a incredible ode to the importance of books and reading and knowledge. Audra knows her parents are up to something, but until they ...more
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-books
This is the book I expected The Book Thief to be and while it is written for a younger audience, I don't think that should stop you picking it up. Nothing should ever stop you from picking up a book, that is the whole point.

Long before Germanic Occupation, Lithuania was a country beseiged by upsurpers attempting to eradicate them as a people and as a nation. And how do you remove a people from history? Take away their books. Because books not only have the power to transform and create but they
Donna Merritt
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I received an ARC of this book, due out October 2019.

Important historical (and current) topic about cultural identity tied to books and the power of the written word, set in the late 1800s when Russia banned Lithuanian books. When her parents are arrested and her home torched, Audra discovers that her parents were book smugglers, getting books into as many Lithuanian hands as possible in order to stand against the Cossacks. And yet, her parents, despite their mission, have never taught Audra to
Stephanie P
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher to review.

I really enjoyed this powerful story about book smugglers in Lithuania who tried to keep their culture alive when the occupying Russians were smothering it out through banning their language, religion, and written word. It was amazing to see so many people risking so much to be able to read books, because they knew how powerful and important words are. I feel very grateful that I have an abundance of books right at my
Bonnie Grover
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Because of our books, we will not be erased from our own history.” Nielsen’s newest book takes place during the Russian occupation of Lithuania (1795-1918), specifically 1893. During this time there was a 40 year ban on the Lithuanian language, press and books. Because of a series of events, young adolescent Audra not only learns to read and write, she becomes a book smuggler. Audra faces constant danger as she tries to save her parents from a Siberian prison, her friends, herself and of course ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
For all the middle grade and other age readers who love Nielsen, for people who love Between Shades of Grey and want more Lithuania, For book lovers. This book’s reading level and length make it more accessible than Resistance (which was longer, more difficult, more intense than some of my eager 6th graders were ready for last year).

So many good lines in this one, and I learned more about Lithuania, Russia, and the brave people of Lithuania who preserved culture.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It encouraged me to start looking up all sorts of information about Lithuania. There are some great quotes about the power of a cultural identity and the role of books to preserve it. Thank you to the author for writing historical fiction books like this one and Night Divided that is not set in WW II. I’m glad to have a different setting to offer my students. This is a good book for reluctant readers as the action never stops.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was very fast-paced. We are thrown right in the middle of Audra's disaster in which she loses her parents and, reluctantly at first, then with conviction, takes over their job as book smugglers, learning along the way to love the books and what they represent. What is not clear is why one of the important characters has a sudden change of heart.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I spent a day traveling with Neilsen for work, so I figured I should probably read one of her books before hand. It’s not something I’d typically read, but I enjoyed it all the same. The kids LOVE her books and she was easily one of the best authors I’ve heard speak before. She definitely knows her history.
Clare Lund
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating middle grade thriller about the Russian occupation of Lithuania in the late 1800s — something I never knew much about. Fans of Jennifer Nielsen’s other historical fiction like Resistance and A Night Divided will also enjoy Audra’s powerful story! Ages 10 and up.
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Please read my review on Amazon. com under C. Wong. Thank you.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good read, but not my favorite historical fiction by Nielsen. But I loved hearing about this history that I previously knew nothing about.
Korbie Harrison
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won a copy of an ARC of this book. I've loved all of Jennifer Nielsen's books so far, and this one was even more wonderful than expected! It was a part of history I knew nothing about, and it was so interesting to get a feel for Lithuania during the Russian occupation. Highly recommended for Elementary and up!
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness this was such a good book. I didn’t even know Lithuania existed until I read this book. The ending was perfect and the storyline was amazing. It’s crazy what happened during this time period.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good story about not only a time & place in history that many aren’t aware of, but also about the importance of literature.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen, 336 pages. Scholastic, OCTOBER 2019. $18.

Language: G (0swears, 0‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG



Audra and her parents live a poor, but loving life in a small village in Lithuania near the border with Prussia in 1893. Her dad is away a lot with his peddling and Audra overhears her parents talking about secret plans the same night that the Russians arrest them and send them off to Siberia. Audra
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The power of books! Fantastic!
Valerie McEnroe
I am a fan of Nielsen's writing, but I struggled with this one. It definitely achieved its objective of portraying the lengths conquering nations will go to to erase the identity of the people they have subjugated. In the 1800s Lithuania was a nation of peasants and easily conquered by Russia. Audra's family was one of many who chose to lead a quiet resistance to preserve their culture. They did this through a secret network of book smugglers. Books were the key to keeping their language and ...more
Kate Waggoner
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-read
I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of Jennifer A. Nielsen's Words on Fire through the Scholastic Insiders program. All opinions are my own.

Audra lives in Lithuania under the thumb of the Cossack's and the Russian Tsar's unjust rule. The Russians have occupied Lithuania for years and are attempting to stamp out Lithuanian culture and assimilate its people. To do this, they ban books and the Lithuanian language. Audra has lived a very sheltered life, but she knows that her parents do
Beth Mendelsohn
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Audra lives in Lithuania during the Russian occupation during the late 1800’s. The Lithuanian people were prohibited from speaking their own language and reading books in their language. Her father, a traveling magician, and her mother have a secret they do not want Audra to know about. One day, Cossacks (Russian soldiers) show up at their home. Audra’s mother thrusts a satchel into her hands and tells her to run and deliver it to a person Audra has never met in a town she has never visited. Her ...more
Kelly Farnsworth
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just finished reading Words on Fire by Jennifer Nielsen. I have really enjoyed her other Historical Fiction novels such as A Night Divided and Resistance. Words on Fire has now been added to that list of books that help teach and remind us of the fights and struggles of people in our past for the cause of freedom.
Words on Fire is set in Russia-Occupied Lithuania where all things Lithuanian are being banned-books, culture, language, religion, and life itself as a Lithuanian. Audra soon finds out
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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 ...more
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