Ashes by Kathryn Lasky (Published by Viking, February 4, 2010)
Thirteen-year-old Gabriella Schramm lives a comfortable and happy life with her middle class family in Berlin, Germany in 1932. Her father is a scientist who studies and teaches physics at the university. Because of his work, Albert Einstein is a friend of the family. Gaby enjoys reading books, going on after school outings to the zoo and the movies with her best friend, Rosa, and spending summers at her family's vacation home by the lake. Her biggest worry up until now has been the teacher who confiscates the books he catches Gaby reading during class. But all that is about to change, as Adolf Hitler grows in popularity and power.
First, Hitler’s private army, in their brown uniforms, begins to fill the streets of Berlin. Then the persecution of Jews and communists begins. Intellectuals and scientists like Gaby’s father are a target, too, for teaching un-German ideas and for not supporting the Nazis. Gaby is increasingly worried that her older sister Ulla’s boyfriend may be a Nazi. And even the books Gaby enjoys escaping into in these troubled times are becoming a target. As her entire world changes and seems to crumble around her, Gaby must come to terms with all that she has lost.
Ashes is a fascinating and often troubling look at life in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. Gaby was a very likeable heroine. I especially enjoyed that she loved reading and that books were her escape into another world, which reminded me of myself at her age. If you enjoy historical fiction and are interested in this time period then I highly recommend you read this book, and I also think it would make good supplemental reading for preteens and young teens learning about this era of history in school.