Almost Autumn

tr. from Norwegian by Rosie Hedger. 288p. ebook available. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545889650.
Gr 6–10—Ilse Stern, 15, is smitten with Hermann, the boy next door, in this historical novel set in Oslo. With World War II hovering in the background, life quickly spins out of control, pulling Ilse and Hermann in very different directions. As Ilse and her family confront growing anti-Semitic persecution, Hermann becomes increasingly secretive. Jewish families face pressure from police, discrimination in the work environment, displacement from their homes, and even deportation to concentration camps. Most of the narrative is told from Ilse's perspective, and there is very little historical context for readers to glean understanding about the German occupation of Norway or the larger Nazi movement. In addition, occasional switches of perspectives may pose a challenge for some, while the large number of characters often receive superficial treatment. In an afterword, Kaurin notes that she was inspired to write the novel by imagining the many "what-if" scenarios that shaped people's lives during the Holocaust, and her exploration of these situations, along with her unusual setting, may draw readers. For other titles specific to Norway during World War II, suggest Margi Preus's Shadow on the Mountain or Sandy Brehl's Odin's Promise.
VERDICT Purchase where historical fiction and Holocaust books are in high demand.

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