Saturday, April 18, 2009

Eleanor’s Story – An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany by Eleanor Ramrath Garner

Coming from German descent myself, this dark mark in the history of Germany has always fascinated me as I’ve wondered what I would have done had I lived in Germany at that time. I found myself drawn to this Teacher’s Choice Award book. In this story, Eleanor, an American girl of recent German immigrants and her family find themselves sailing across the sea in order that her father might take a good job in Berlin, Germany. While crossing the news comes that Germany has declared war on many more countries and now her family realizes that they may have made a mistake in crossing the sea. Eleanor and her family suffer as much as the rest of the German people but somehow their family stays intact through the entire war. They deal with bombings, threat of rape, starvation, having to flee to other areas, scavenging for food, and the deaths of many they love. Eleanor’s mother is the glue holding them together as they deal with one heart-wrenching blow after another. Her mother at one point, when life looks bleakest says, “It isn’t enough to feed the stomach. You also have to feed the soul with something beautiful.” Then her mother placed flowers she found somewhere in the ruins of Berlin on the table. This book teaches topics ranging from food storage, to survival, to compassion, to love, to forgiveness, to education that it would be worth reading. Eleanor’s story will require discussion on sex and rape as both are topics that Eleanor faces. In war, people die and Eleanor speaks of seeing dead bodies, suicides, and senseless death of children. These topics were real in Berlin at the time and cannot be avoided but if your child reads this story, be prepared to discuss them. It is a tale of survival and with spring comes hope for the people of Berlin and Eleanor as they struggle to rise above circumstances none of them wanted but must handle nonetheless.

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