When WWII begins, 10-year-old Franziska's family is terrified for their safety. Choosing to be separated while awaiting passage out of Nazi Germany for their entire family, they place Franziska on the kindertransport, a train taking Jewish children to Britain to stay with foster families until Germany becomes safe again. She doesn't understand why she has to go, since her family doesn't even practice Judaism and she wears a cross around her neck!
Taken in by an Orthodox family that, over the years of the war, becomes closer to Franziska than her actual relatives, she is not only faced with confusion and heartache over being separated from her parents, but she's also forced to deal with the concept of religion and what it really means to be Jewish and Christian.
I was super impressed with Anne Voorhoeve's book. I had picked it up a couple of times and read the first few pages, not necessarily being drawn into the story right away, but once it got going, I was completely hooked. The kindertransport was something I had heard of, but never really read about, and it was just an amazing learning experience for me, not to mention an emotional roller coaster.
I felt for Franziska's parents having to make the decision to save their child by sending her away and the absolute devastation and feeling of abandonment felt by the main character. Even, years later, after hearing the stories of what she had been spared, she still just didn't quite understand how her parents could send choose to send her to live with strangers.
I think this was a completely realistic portrayal of what it meant to be a Jewish, German child being sent out of the country during WWII. I believed her story and I can imagine there are so many other stories almost just like this one out there. The story felt like it was being written from a child's perspective and then from a teen's perspective as Franziska grew, both physically and emotionally. The religious aspects were perfect and I could feel her indecisiveness throughout the story in regards to those elements.
It's hard to say I loved a book on such a tough subject, but I definitely did. Even with the young protagonist, I would probably be more apt to give this to kids 14 and up, only because of the heavier subject matter. It may go over the heads of anyone much younger.
My Family for the War
Anne C. Voorhoeves