Monday, April 18, 2011

Marika, by Andrea Cheng

MarikaGrowing up in Hungary, Marika never gave much thought to the fact she was Jewish.  She celebrated Christmas, went to Catholic religious education classes, and attended Mass.  But when Hitler began redefining what it meant to be a Jew, Marika found herself, and her family, in danger.  Suddenly, her family is torn apart, and thrown into hiding.  Marika's future is uncertain.

This story was almost like a memoir, since Cheng tells the tale of her mother's life during WWII.  Marika's character is well developed, it is her voice we hear, but in some ways I still found her to be very removed.  The whole book was like this, more like hearing someone talk about a book they read than actually experiencing reading the book.  It is hard for me to explain.

The book is intended for a young adult audience, most likely middle grades, and I think that it is artfully written for this age group.  It seemed to me that it would not translate as well for older readers (perhaps that is why it seemed so detached).  I think that the Holocaust is an important topic for children to read about, but it must be handled delicately.  This book does a good job of approaching the subject in a way that is not terribly traumatic for young readers, and would make a wonderful introduction to the Holocaust for middle grade students.

Overall, it was a good story, blending literature with history, part memoir, part fiction.  It may not resonate as much with adults, but for it's intended audience, it is right on the money.


This book is from my personal library.