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The Devil's Arithmetic

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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  44,450 Ratings  ·  1,954 Reviews
FICTION
Mass Market Paperback, 170 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Scholastic (first published 1988)
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Dawn I've only started the book, so no spoilers. She goes to her family's Hannaka celebration in the modern day, but when she opens the apartment door to…moreI've only started the book, so no spoilers. She goes to her family's Hannaka celebration in the modern day, but when she opens the apartment door to "welcome the prophet Elijah" (a symbolic gesture that's part of the Hannaka tradition), she finds herself unexplainably in the home of a Jewish family during WWII. I get the idea that this book may be about understanding and appreciating the events of the Holocaust, even though we haven't experienced them first-hand.(less)

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Meaghan
I wish I could say I liked this book. I thought I would. I know it's critically acclaimed and a well-known story. But it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

The book is meant to educate young people about the Holocaust, but it had a lot of historical inaccuracies. The idyllic shtetl world at the beginning of Chaya's story would have been long gone by 1942 -- by that time, all the Jews left alive in Poland were in ghettos, in concentration camps or in hiding. Lublin, the place Chaya supposedly c
...more
Chris
This semester I am requiring my students to read The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, a novel takes place in Poland during World War II. The good news is that my students love the book; in fact, several of them are reading ahead.

The shocking fact, the bad news, is what they don’t know. It is not just knowledge of history that they lack; it is knowledge of basic geography.

God bless PowerPoint and blackboard.

To be fair, my students do ask intelligent questions, yet the lack of basic knowledge i
...more
Becky
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone -- but especially teenagers that think they are the center of the universe! ;)
Recommended to Becky by: Thrift store find
I wasn't really sure what to make of this book when I first saw it, but after having read it, I would say that I am glad that I did.

This is one of those books that really makes you look at things from a different perspective. I can relate to Hannah, because I remember being 13 and having little patience with traditions and customs, and just wanting to hang out with my friends.

But given the experience Hannah had, she was able to see things in a new way, and was granted a gift, even though it wa
...more
Lisa Vegan
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody at least 12 and up
This is a marvelous book for young adults, although I wouldn’t recommend it as their first introduction to the holocaust because it portrays the atrocities committed in a starkly realistic way. And, unlike some young adult books that I enjoyed as young as nine or ten years old, I wouldn’t give this to kids until they were at least 12.

It is a wonderful story and, because the main character, an American Jewish girl who’s 12 years old, is from the present time (even though the book was written twen
...more
K8
Twelve year old Hannah is sick of spending Passover 'remembering' the past with her relatives. During the Passover Seder, she is transported to 1942 Poland, where she becomes Chaya (her Hebrew name), the girl she was named for. In this time, she is eventually sent to a concentration camp, where the bulk of the story takes place. Throughout the book, she struggles with memory - which memories are real (the future or the now), remembering anything b/c of the trauma of the camp, futilely trying to ...more
Kim
Feb 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Summary: When Hannah opens the door during Passover Seder to symbolically welcome the profit Elijah, she suddenly finds herself in the unfamiliar world of a Polish village i the 1940's. Hannah had always complained about listening about listening to her relatives tell the same stories of the Holocaust over and over, but now she finds herself in terrifying situation. The Nazi soldiers have come to take the villagers away, and Hannah can guess where they are going.

Response: I loved this book. Bei
...more
Lars Guthrie
Dec 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yolen employs a "Magic Tree House" trope to move her main character, Hannah, a bored American thirteen-year-old at her family's Seder dinner, through time, space and language, and it comes off as hokey. Once Hannah becomes Chaya, an orphan living in a Polish village in 1942, though, this tale grabs onto the reader and doesn't let go. Hannah opens the door of her family's apartment to welcome the prophet Elijah and is soon crammed into a crowded cattle car with other Jews on a train destined for ...more
Lindsey
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lindsey by: My children's lit professor
Anyone and everyone should read this book! It's a very fast read because it was written for children but it tells a beautiful story and has a great twist in the end. The Devil's Arithmetic is about a young Jewish girl who doesn't quite understand her family's past. She finds Jewish holidays and celebrations to be boring and is unappreciative of the hardships Jews have faced. She is mysteriously transported to the past and ends up in a concentration camp. Here she suffers the hardships first hand ...more
Loralee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janette
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I usually read to avoid hearing about depressing subjects but I went ahead and read this one even though it was about a Jewish girl living during WW2.

It was a good book, and I got choked up in the end. Then I couldn't get to sleep at night because I was too busy pondering how civilized societies are capable of butchering millions of people. It seems so impossible, and yet it's happened more than once in history.

It makes you look at your friends and neighbors and wonder what sort of hearts of da
...more
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more
More about Jane Yolen...
“You are a name, not a number. Never forget that name, whatever they tell you here. You will always be Chaya—life—to me.” 36 likes
“We all have such stories. It is a brutal arithmetic. But I - I am alive. You are alive. As long as we breathe, we can see and hear. As long as we can remember, all those gone before are alive inside us.” 27 likes
More quotes…