Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Odette's Secrets

Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald is a historical fiction novel based on facts from the life of a real girl who fled Paris and lived as a hidden child during the Nazi occupation because she was Jewish.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
For Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris, nowhere is safe. So when Odette Meyer’s father is sent to a Nazi work camp, Odette’s mother takes desperate measures to protect her, sending Odette deep into the French countryside. There, Odette pretends to be a peasant girl, even posing as a Christian–and attending Catholic masses–with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets, and when the war ends Odette must figure out whether she can resume life in Paris as a Jew, or if she’s lost the connection to her former life forever.

 Stories of the many Jewish children who hid within other families and pretended to be some one they aren't are fascinating to me. Odette's story is no different. The first person narration helps the reader really see through Odette's eyes and fell the things she is experiencing. The story spans five years, from the Nazi invasion until the end of the war, which makes the story complete and gives it full resolution. I thought the author did a great job conveying Odette's confusion and struggles over what is truth and what is fiction. The atmosphere of the book conveys the danger and horror of the period without being too harsh or frightening for younger readers. That is a fine line to balance.

The book is written in free verse and that is not a style I enjoy and this did impact how much I liked the book. If a book is in free verse I need to see it as a necessity, like there was simply no other way to tell the story and that just wasn't the case here. In some places I felt it lent a stilted awkwardness the prose that was jolting more than anything else. Being in free verse makes it a quick and easy read which is always a good thing to have on hand for kids who don't like or can't read longer books.

Kids who love historical fiction and want to read more about World War II will enjoy this book. 

I read a copy of this book made available on NetGalley. Odette's Secrets is on sale February 26.

4 comments:

  1. Uh oh. I was excited about this until you got to the part about the free verse. I am not a huge poetry fan, though I am trying to learn. I've honestly never understood free verse anyway, and, with poetry, it's a very emotional. Either it moves me for some reason, or I want to burn it with fire. There's nothing more annoying than bad poetry, and I'm defining bad as any I don't like. lol.

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    1. Yep. This is how I feel about poetry too. There are times when free verse works perfectly like in Inside Out & Back Again where it flowed beautifully, sounded like Ha, and made wonderful use of figurative language. Or in The One and Only Ivan where it made me believe that is exactly how a gorilla would think. Here it didn't flow well nor was it essential to the story. Unfortunately I'm seeing it pop up more and more in MG fiction.

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  2. Yeah me too-I was going to read it, but now I think I'll skip it. I mean, we all know my feelings about "Love That Dog."

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    1. Love That Dog is another exception for me. I know you didn't like it though.

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