Sunday, June 01, 2008

Number the Stars...random thoughts

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry. Not sure why, but I was expecting this to be a much more emotional read than it was. That's not to say that this wasn't a wonderful book, however. Through the years, I've read a number of books relating to World War II, especially on the heartbreaking subject of the Holocaust. But I don't believe I've ever read a book that dealt with life in an occupied country. It was a fascinating, and frankly, an unsettling, new facet to the whole World War II era for me. And while this is a fictional account, Lowry explains in the Afterword that it was based on the stories told to her by a real life friend who grew up in Copenhagen during the years of German occupation. In addition, she read numerous accounts of the Danish Resistance, and based some events on events recounted there. The historical information in this novel is factual.

Annemarie is a young girl growing up in Denmark during the German occupation. She lives with her parents and younger sister in an apartment building in Copenhagen. Her best friend, Ellen, is a Jewish girl living this same apartment building. Life hasn't been particularly fun since the occupation began, with food shortages and soldiers on every corner, but the children continue about their daily lives, going to school and playing together as children do. However, there comes a time when things take a drastic turn for the worse. The Germans have decided that the Jews in Denmark need to be "relocated". The story continues, and we get a glimpse at how everyday men, women, and children become heroes to save their friends and neighbors and even complete strangers. It is a story of sadness, because we all know of the many millions of people who were not saved. But this is a tale of the goodness that exists in so much of the human race. The characters touched me in a powerful way, not because they were heroes, but because they never would have considered themselves heroes. They just did what needed to be done, because it was the right thing to do, the human thing to do, and ignoring the horror of what was happening was never an option.


I apologize for the short, and frankly not terribly insightful review. Again, I'm just way too tired to be attempting to make sense. If anyone has reviewed this book, just leave a link in the comments and I'll add it here. Thanks.

Nymeth of Things Mean A Lot
Rhinoa at Rhinoa's Ramblings


Read for:

The Margaret A. Edwards Reading Challenge. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to finish, huh? But at least I did finish, which definitely isn't always the case with me. The books I read:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Of these, Ender's Game was definitely my favorite. But I truly loved each one of these books, and am grateful to Becky for hosting this challenge and giving me the excuse to read each one.

The Novella Challenge.


Eva said...

I think this was a great review! Because I've never been particularly interested in reading this one, but after your review I really want to. :) I noticed I have three points now in the blame game: what's the third book?

Becky said...

Congrats on finishing, Debi!!! I've said this before, but I'll repeat myself. I'm so *happy* you enjoyed Ender's Game. :)

Also congrats on your win over at Chris' site ;)

By the way, I'm reading The Stand!

chrisa511 said...

Congrats on finishing up Deb! I'm just finishing the challenge today myself! This was such a great review. I really need to read this book. I fell in love with Lowry's writing after reading The Giver and I've been wanting to read some more ever since then. This one sounds perfect.

Kim L said...

I have good memories of this book, as it was my introduction to WW2. Afterwards, I remember asking my dad about the history behind the book and trying to absorb why people were so cruel to other people.

Bookfool said...

So have you not read Suite Francaise? It's about life in occupied France. The notes at the end of the book (about the author, who was unable to finish the book before she was imprisoned and died) nearly did me in. It's a must read, IMHO. How about The Book Thief? Oh, and one of my all-time favorite WWII novels, which a friend just reminded me about, is Under An English Heaven by Robert Radcliffe (think I spelled that right). That one's on the good shelves.

Ana S. said...

"They just did what needed to be done, because it was the right thing to do, the human thing to do, and ignoring the horror of what was happening was never an option."

Yes, exactly. This book was different from what I expected too, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Congratulations on finishing the challenge!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Thanks for the review--I'm glad you liked the book. Out of all the books I read for school, I remember this one the most, which is a little strange since it is also the first book I vividly remember reading for school (4th grade). I started reading Ender's Game to hubby last weekend during our cartrip, but it has been resting on the counter since then. We have a weekend trip planned this weekend so he's hoping for me to read to him again--but we may have company. A little awkward? :) He doesn't think so...I do. Anyway, I'll have to find your review of that one when I'm finally finished reading it.

Anonymous said...

I reviewed it here last year.

I am glad it touched you. I am a big fan of her writing.