Thursday, February 2, 2012
Book review: Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skypruch
This book tells the story of Lida, a fictional young Ukranian girl, who is captured by the Nazis to be used for slave labor shortly before her ninth birthday. Lida's father was killed by the Soviets, and her mother was shot by the Nazis for attempting to hide their Jewish neighbors. After that, Lida and her beloved younger sister, Larissa, went to live with their grandmother, where they were captured by the Nazis. The girls were separated, with Lida being sent to a work camp. Lida is devastated, as she doesn't know what happened to her sister, her only remaining family, and she fears she might have been harmed or killed because she is too young to work.
The conditions at the work camp are awful. Lida lies about her age, hoping she will be seen as more useful, and thus, be kept alive. There is never enough food and everyone is cold and hungry. Lida is lucky, because she is given a good position working in the laundry, which is clean and warm. However, after a few months, she is forced to go to work in a factory, making bombs for the Nazis. Lida hates having to help the Nazi war effort, because if they win, she will never be free again. However, she is able to find comfort from memories of her family, from her friendship with other children living at the camp, and from keeping alive her hope that one day she will find her sister again.
Before reading Making Bombs for Hitler, I didn't know that so many children and young adults from Eastern Europe had been used as slave labor by the Nazis during World War II. I wouldn't necessarily say I enjoyed reading this book, because it's a very sad and tragic story about the suffering of children in war. However, I think it is a very important story to tell, and the author tells it well. Lida was a very couragous character who survived living and working in conditions that were nearly unbearable, all the while keeping alive the hope that she would someday be reunited with her sister. This book is a companion novel to another book by the author, Stolen Child, which was about Lida's sister, Larissa. Making Bombs for Hitler can be read as a standalone, but you will want to read Stolen Child too, to find out how Larissa survived the war. I recommend this book to young readers studying World War II as well as to adults with an interest in the subject.