Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Review: Somewhere There Is Still A Sun by Michael Gruenbaum with Todd Hasak-Lowy

Publisher: Aladdin
Publish Date: August 25th, 2015
ISBN: 9781442484863

Pages: 384
Series: None
Source: ARC from publisher for honest review

Goodreads Synopsis:

Resilience shines throughout a boy’s firsthand, present-tense account of life in the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust, an ideal companion to the bestselling Boy on the Wooden Box.
Michael “Misha” Gruenbaum enjoyed a carefree childhood playing games and taking walks through Prague with his beloved father. All of that changed forever when the Nazis invaded Prague. The Gruenbaum family was forced to move into the Jewish Ghetto in Prague. Then, after a devastating loss, Michael, his mother and sister were deported to the Terezin concentration camp.
At Terezin, Misha roomed with forty other boys who became like brothers to him. Life in Terezin was a bizarre, surreal balance—some days were filled with friendship and soccer matches, while others brought mortal terror as the boys waited to hear the names on each new list of who was being sent “to the East.”

Those trains were going to Auschwitz. When the day came that his family's name appeared on a transport list, their survival called for a miracle;one that tied Michael's fate to a carefully sewn teddy bear, and to his mother's unshakeable determination to keep her children safe.
Collaborating with acclaimed author Todd Hasak-Lowy, Michael Gruenbaum shares his inspiring story of hope in an unforgettable memoir that recreates his experiences with stunning immediacy. Michael's story, and the many original documents and photos included alongside it, offer an essential contribution to Holocaust literature.

My Review:

Right off the top, I don't read historical books, ever. I don't find them interesting enough. If there is a topic that interests me, I'll watch documentaries or movies. They always hold my attention and I retain a lot more that way. But I thoroughly enjoyed this historical memoir about a young boys life as a Jew in Prague and his surviving journey through the Holocaust. 
I think what made this more catchy was that it was a book geared to 10-15 year olds. It was told as a story that the youth could put themselves in, and there wasn't an information overload.
In Somewhere There Is Still A Sun we follow Misha, a young boy who loves his father, soccer and exploring his surrounding town. He's like any other young child in the streets of Prague in 1939 making up games and kicking around a ball and just enjoying life, but when the first rules are thrown his way by the Nazis he is a bit confused by the injustice and when more and more stupid rules are enforced, Misha see's just how bad things are becoming. When his father is taken away by SS officers and his mother and sister along with him are forced out of their home not once but twice and moved to the Terezin concentration camp, Misha fears that things are at their worst. Misha is separated from his mother and sister and forced to live with 40 other boys in a group called the Nesharim. Some days are normal where they can play soccer and be boys again, but other days are spent worrying about the next transport and what will happen if Misha and his family are to be a part of that.
There is so much emotion in this book. You can feel the love and the hatred surrounded by everyone. You pick up so clearly the fear but also the sense of family, and you can feel the pain endured by the poor people who were herded like cattle and deprived of basic necessities. The last few chapters were an emotional roller coaster and the authors did a great job with the writing, the details and the pure rawness of creating this memoir that I think should be a book available to all young readers.

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