This book takes place in the 1940's in France. It starts when Germany is threatening, but moves into the time that Germany occupied France. I must say I never realized that Germany took over almost half of France, nor did I realize just how awful it was for the French people. I'm not sure if my history teachers skipped that, glossed over it or I just didn't pick it up, but I always knew we invaded Normandy, but never put it together that many French people were ruled by Germans during this time. Anyway, Gustave is a boy of about 11 who lives in Paris with his family and close friends Jean-Paul and Marcel. Marcel came from Poland, but they are all Jewish. As the Germans continue to threaten, Gustave's mother decides they must leave Paris and they leave for a small town south of Paris. Gustave's cousin and friend stay in Paris. Shortly thereafter, the Germans invade France and the provisional occupation occurs. Gustave is very worried about his friends and relatives, as they learn more and more about the abuses to which the Jewish people are subject in Paris. Even in his remote town that is just south of the occupied part of France, Jewish people are stripped of rights and marginalized. This book was a good book but it seemed to be more history lesson than story. It was bits and pieces of Gustave's life over almost 3 years, I think. It didn't make for a very cohesive story but it painted a vivid picture of occupied France and the pressures of being Jewish in this time period.
Grades 4-7 Caudill nominee 2013