If we ask our children today who their heroes are, often they reply with the name of an accomplished and highly paid athlete. They revere those on the gridiron and those who shoot the ball through the net with great accuracy. This book holds the story of some true heroes.
"A new order has come from the Germans. Most of the Jews in Krakow must leave the city. Your daughter's name will be on tomorrow's list." This is the moment when Chaya's family is being forced out of their home into an apartment the size of a closet in a place that will become a ghetto. This is the moment when Chaya faces the reality that her father and her mother cannot protect her. They are powerless under the Nazi regime that is taking over Poland. Chaya must walk away from her family and alone will have to find her way to her grandmother. She is sixteen years old.
We're in Poland as the Nazi regime begins to round up Jewish citizens and segregate them in ghettos. Chaya and her family have been trying to believe that the worst cannot happen to them and will not happen to them. But the crumbling of society and humanity has begun and the first glimpses of the horrors to come are beginning to lurk in the cracks. As Chaya sets out, she carries with her the awareness that the world has turned upside down and the civilities, respect for others, honoring of differences have been lost to hatred, fear, ambition and greed.
Chaya sets out alone on her journey but she never makes it to her grandmother. Instead she is taken in by a compassionate farmer's wife who gathers her in and takes in others as well. Word reaches Chaya that her younger brother Yitzchak has disappeared and may be dead and her sister Sara has been taken away and put on a train by the authorities. So much loss. When the adults around her decide to fight back and begin a resistance cell, Chaya, with her blonde hair, her light complexion and her ability to speak Polish, joins the resistance and passes herself off as a Pole rather than the Jewish girl that she is. She becomes a courier helping to sneak people out of the ghettos and bringing food and supplies into those who so desperately need them to survive.
This is Chaya's story. It's a story of danger, risk, integrity, courage, perseverance and above all, it's a story of being willing to fight and fight and fight for what is right against what is wrong.
At the age of sixteen she chooses to join in the hidden war against the Nazis. She sees time and time again the horrors of the Germans and of the Poles and even some of her own people, who try to use the difficulties of others for their own profit and their own gain. Betrayal can come from anywhere and anyone.
Chaya eventually teams with a girl named Esther and the two take risk after risk working with others to steal supplies from German trains and even lifting a gun to shoot those who fight against them. The girls journey to the Warsaw Ghetto in a last courageous effort to save the doomed. Knowing they are determining their own fate, they choose to sneak inside and join with the resistance who are holding out the hope that their fight might prevail.
Storytelling has long been an essential gift of life on Earth. We tell our stories and we pass them down so what has been learned can be shared with future generations. We pass them down with a hope we will not repeat the same mistakes. This story, told in the voice of sixteen-year-old Chaya does more than simply recount a past horror. This story take you into the past where it seems you are the one who is fighting for right and you are the one who is desperate to survive.
What sets this book apart and gives it such power is the brilliant and vivid detail of each scene. You are there. The voice of Chaya gives us the feeling we are physically present with her. We feel the cold. We tremble in fear. We hide in the hay and walk through the sewers. But even more, we are asked to stand with her in each moment and decide for ourselves what we would choose and how much courage we would bring to the fight. ...to feel the terror and wonder at her strength and determination. (A list of some resistance fighters is included in the backmatter along with their contributions.)
Using the first person voice, Jennifer Nielsen writes a book about the past that reaches all the way to the future and finds itself in our own times. This book is set in 1942 but its voice and its yearning cry are spoken to us. This book would be an excellent choice for One School One Book school and community reading events.
"Love is the resistance."---Jennifer Nielsen, The Afterword, RESISTANCE
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
400 pages 978-1338148473 Ages 10-15
********* Chaya Lindner is a teenager living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Simply being Jewish places her in danger of being killed or sent to the camps. After her little sister is taken away, her younger brother disappears, and her parents all but give up hope, Chaya is determined to make a difference. Using forged papers and her fair features, Chaya becomes a courier and travels between the Jewish ghettos of Poland, smuggling food, papers, and even people.
Soon Chaya joins a resistance cell that runs raids on the Nazis' supplies. But after a mission goes terribly wrong, Chaya's network shatters. She is alone and unsure of where to go, until Esther, a member of her cell, finds her and delivers a message that chills Chaya to her core, and sends her on a journey toward an even larger uprising in the works -- in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Though the Jewish resistance never had much of a chance against the Nazis, they were determined to save as many lives as possible, and to live -- or die -- with honor.--from the publisher