The Silent Unseen: A Novel of World War II

Farrar. Apr. 2022. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374313555.
Gr 7 Up–It is 1944, and WWII rages on. Maria Kamiska, 16, has spent the last two-and-a-half years as an Ostarbeiter (slave worker) at a German factory. Maria, of Polish descent, was ordered away in 1942. She escapes the factory and is desperate to get to her home in Bród, Poland to see if her parents have survived the war. Worlds collide when she saves a Ukrainian boy’s life in her family’s old barn. The NKVD (Soviet police) think he is UPA (Ukrainian nationalists) and are torturing him for information. Although the Polish and Ukrainians have been at war, Maria decides to help Kostya. As they journey, the Polish Resistance picks them up and Kostya becomes a prisoner. One of the Polish soldiers turns out to be Tomek, Maria’s brother who her family had thought dead since 1939. Tomek is a “Silent Unseen,” Polish by definition—a special-ops agent trained in England on direct orders from the war ministry in London. McCrina soars in her writing as she depicts this complicated piece of forgotten history. Well researched, accurate, and smartly written, this is a page-turner, weaving together the horrors of war and its psychological consequences beautifully.
VERDICT With a touch of romance thrown in, this suspenseful thriller is an excellent addition to YA historical fiction collections; a must-buy.

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