Gen is so glad that her time in Alsace with her grandmother, Mémé is about to be over. Her brother Andre is heading back to the United States first and then it will be Gen's turn to leave all the hard farm work behind her. It's been a good summer and a hard summer. Gen has made her best friend ever in Katrin and she has at least a little crush on Rémy who makes her heart beat a little faster.
War is coming to Alsace. The Germans are on the move and getting closer. Her brusque grandmother hitches the horse, Sister, to the small cart and drives Gen to the railroad station where she will catch a train to get to the ship that will sail her home to freedom and safety.
But as Mémé and Gen get into the cart, Gen sees the blood on her grandmother's ankle. At the train station, her grandmother leaves quickly and with little emotion. No love lost there. Yet, Gen, as the time comes to board the train, decides she cannot leave. She knows her grandmother is suffering and she simply can't walk away.
Gen's choice lands her in the middle of World War II as the Germans move into the small town where her grandmother lives and one soldier, invades their home, taking their room, their heat, their food and their safety. All around Gen, is a hidden, unspoken world of secrecy. Who can she trust? When Rémy is injured, who can she tell and how can she help him?
Genevieve is a stumbling character with consistent poor judgment yet her heart is in the right place and she means so well. The memories and history of generations of her family surround her here in this farmhouse and in this town. She'll discover the courage she's inherited so honestly and she'll see how the honor of the past runs through her veins and is leading her to the place where she belongs.
A story of World War II, the resistance, the courage of the Alsatians and the strength of the people who fought their own wars even though they weren't on the front lines.
This is a matter of fact story told without a lot of sentimentality. As a reader, I honored the courage and the perseverance of the actions and choices of the people but I didn't find myself attaching to them deeply on a personal level.
Read alike: Bicycle Spy; Number the Stars; Honeycake; Lily's Crossing (companion book)
222 pages 978-0823438006 Ages 8-12
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
Genevieve is staying with her grandmother in Alsace in the days right before WWII, and when she is to be sent back home, she decides that her cold and forbidding grandmother really needs her help. Once she returns home (without her luggage!), things become very dire. Students and teachers disappear from school, and the students are forced to speak German. The Germans invade, and one is even billeted in their home, which is dangerous because they have been hoarding food and are trying to hide a picture that Genevieve's deceased father painted. Food is scarce, her grandmother's health is precarious, and her best friend, Remy, is being sought by the Nazis. She and her grandmother are trying to hide him, and work with the local Resistance workers. Eventually, plans are made for Genevieve to escape to Switzerland. Will she be able to leave her grandmother, even if it means getting home to New York? Strengths: This is a slightly different topic for a WWII book-- what life was like in areas that weren't being bombed but still suffered horribly because of the Nazis. The story of ordinary people surviving against the odds is always interesting to me, and I think that students will like this because they will be able to put themselves in Genevieve's place. Weaknesses: This is slightly slower paced than the books that my students typically like about WWII, but that does make it a good choice for more sensitive readers who are assigned this topic. What I really think: Definitely purchasing. I found myself identifying with Genevieve and really liked her.
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Teacher Librarian, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com
"Thirteen-year-old American girl Genevieve has spent the summer of 1939 at her grandmother’s farm in Alsace, France. Then she makes an impulsive choice: to stay in France. It proves to be a dangerous decision. World War II erupts. The Nazis conquer Alsace and deport the Jews and others. A frightening German officer commandeers a room in Meme’s farmhouse. And when Gen’s friend Remi commits an act of sabotage, Gen is forced to hide him in the attic―right above the Nazi officer’s head. Genevieve’s War is a gripping story that brings the war in occupied France vividly to life. It is a companion work to Lily’s Crossing, a Newbery Honor Book."--from the publisher