Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The War Within These Walls

The War Within These Walls
by Aline Sax and Caryl Strzelecki, translated by Laura Watkinson
Eerdmans, 2013.  175 pgs.  Young Adult

The story of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Uprising as the Nazis came to take everyone away, is graphically told here by one Misha, a teenage boy who chooses from the beginning to fight back. Misha's father is a doctor who works in the hospital, so his family is safe for awhile from deportation, but not from hunger. Misha watches anxiously as his mother's health fails and his little sister loses all her considerable vitality. When he can stand no more, he takes to the sewers, leaving the ghetto to steal food and return it to his family. When the Nazis catch on to that trick, and scorch the sewers with flamethrowers, Misha joins a resistance group inside the walls who stockpile such weapons as they can find and then take on the soldiers as they enter the ghetto to take everyone to the extermination camps. Strzelecki's black and gray and white pictures provide  a powerful and evocative accompaniment to Sax's story of Misha. A fine Holocaust book for  young people, The War Within these Walls is graphic in more ways than one, and should be approached carefully by the very tenderhearted or younger teens.

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