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The Devil's Arithmetic Library Binding – April 18, 2008
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- Publisher : Paw Prints 2008-04-18 (April 18, 2008)
- Language : English
- Library Binding : 176 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1435247892
- ISBN-13 : 978-1435247895
- Item Weight : 7.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 0.75 x 5 x 7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,041,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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The book is very slow for the first 50-60 pages, but does get interesting and exciting when the Nazi army bursts onto the scene. The experiences that the main character experiences at the concentration camp are similar to actual occurrences I've already read in nonfiction books.
At the conclusion of the book I was left to ponder, why did I read an historical fiction account of the Holocaust when there are so many biographical accounts that are much more powerfully told?
In the novel, Hannah, an American Jewish teenager who is indifferent and apathetic towards her Jewish family’s past, is transported back to the 1940s to experience one of the most tragic, painful, and horrific points in history.
I felt like this book was an immensely powerful read, one that moves very quickly and one in which the reader can get into the head of the protagonist as she travels back into a dark time in history. As one from the future, Hannah knows all too painfully the horrors that await the Jewish people and those in the concentration camps.
The Devil’s Arithmetic works and fits into several genres. It is a fantasy in which a young girl must travel back in time to witness and be part of her family’s suffering to fully understand and to never forget. But, obviously, the book, while tame in its graphicness, is a very realistic portrayal of such atrocities experienced. And, while the names of the places have been changed, this does not deter from the powerfully realistic images: the awful conditions in the cattle cars, the dehumanization of individuals, the shaving of heads, the separation of loved ones, friends, and families, the lack of necessities like food, water, and proper clothing, the selection of victims.
I highlighted a quote in the afterward by the author Jane Yolen that I believe eloquently sums up the entire experience of this book:
“Fiction cannot recite the numbing numbers, but it can be that witness, that memory. A storyteller can attempt to tell the human tale, can make a galaxy out of chaos…”
This point is illustrated in Hannah’s physical and emotional journey, and spiritual transformation that she must go through.
This edition also contains an extremely helpful glossary for Jewish terms and expressions as well as an afterward by the author.
In my opinion, The Devil’s Arithmetic is powerful portrayal of a dark time in history, and it is definitely a book for anyone interested in young adult books about the Holocaust.
I read this story aloud to both a third and fourth grade classroom. The students were spellbound as the tale unfolded. This led to many discussions and questions about why the war was fought, why the Jewish families were treated with increasing harshness. The prison camps and terrible conditions in them shocked and worried my classes.
What an excellent book to help children understand what happened in ww2.
Top reviews from other countries
Then, in a deft bit of time travel, Hannah finds herself living in a Polish shtetl in 1942 with an unknown family. It's the eve of a wedding and everyone is happy, but the Nazis are close at hand... As she experiences the horrors of life in a concentration camp, she understands the desperate yearning to survive:
"Everyone knew that as long as others were processed, THEY would not be. A simple bit of mathematics, like subtraction, where one taken away from the top line becomes one added on to the bottom. The Devil's arithmetic."
With a touching ending, I thought this would be an ideal book for around the 11 - 12 age-group (but this adult liked it too!)