Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer

Book Jacket

Gustave doesn't want to move from the exciting city to the boring countryside, far from his cousin Jean-Paul and his best friend, the mischievous Marcel.  But he has no choice.  It is March of 1940, and Paris is not a safe place for Jews.

When Paris is captured by the Nazis, Gustave knows that Marcel, Jean-Paul, and their families must make it out of the occupied zone.  And when he learns that his new friend Nicole works for the French Resistance, he comes up with a plan that just might work. 

But going into Occupied France is a risky thing to do when you are Jewish.  And coming back alive?  That is nearly impossible.


This book was excellent!  It is another facet of World War II, one that I knew little about before reading Gustave's story (which is largely based on the true events of the author's father's experience growing up). 

I tend to avoid Holocaust stories, one because they are so incredibly sad, and two, because sometimes the horror is sensationalized.  I much preferred Black Radishes.  The slow discrimination, both by Nazis and by some Frenchmen, felt just as horrible and more applicable to modern times.  Gustave and his parents are stripped of everything--their home, their jobs, their freedom.  Yet they are the lucky ones, because Gustave's father was born in Switzerland and knows German.  Meyer skillfully hints that if life was so bad for them, the rest of the Jews in occupied France, and espeically the rest of the Nazi empire, had it far worse.

This is a coming-of-age story, an adventure story, a spy story, and a heartfelt story.

Five out of five stuffed monkeys.

Release Date: November 2010
Reading Level: Grade 4+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: CAUDILL

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