A gripping tale of one girl’s struggle against the Nazis.
Remember who you are, Milada.” Milada’s grandmother says these words on the night the Nazi soldiers come to their home in Czechoslovakia. But what do they mean? She is Milada, who lives with her mama and papa, her brother and sister, and her beloved Babichka. Milada with the sun-kissed hair, eleven years old, fastest runner in her school. How could she ever forget?
Then the Nazis send Milada to a Lebensborn center in Poland, and Milada quickly discovers that holding on to her true identity will be the greatest struggle of her young life.
Milada, an elevenyear-old girl growing up in Czechoslovakia during World War II, embraces life eagerly and loves her family and her best friend, Terezie. One day the Germans arrive,taking Milada away with a group of other young girls to a camp in Poland. The only common factor among the girls is their blond hair and blue eyes. At the camp, Milada and the others learn how to be good German girls. Milada's instructor even tells her to forget her name and gives her a new German name, Eva. Milada struggles to hold onto her identity, but finds herself sometimes forgetting her true name. Milada wears a pin inside of her dress from her grandmother as a symbol of home. After some time she is sent to live with a German family. Her adopted father runs a concentration camp, but her adopted mother and sister treat her kindly. Her adopted father is stern and seems to take little interest in Milada and more interest in his youngest son. When the war ends, a Red Cross worker rescues Milada from her adopted German home and returns her to her mother, her only other family to have survived the war. Mother and daughter begin to pick up the pieces of their lives and start anew. The author's descriptive style offers readers a lot of insight into Milada's feelings. We are constantly aware of how Milada feels about losing her identity and how she copes with her changing life. The first-person narration from Milada's point of view gives readers a young child's perspective on the Holocaustan important historical perspective oftentimes omitted from Holocaust lessons. The practice of converting non-Jewish girls into German citizens was used to build a strong German society. This book is a compelling display of a young girl's desperate attempt to hold onto her identity as well as what she believes is right during one of the worst periods in world history. Reviewer: Kathryn Shoultz