Odette’s Secrets

Maryann Macdonald. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-59990-750-5
Odette’s life in Paris is happy until Jewish shopkeepers’ stores start being vandalized and rumors of war become fact. With her father in the army, Odette, her mother, and her beloved godmother are left to manage under the growing restrictions against Jews. Eventually, Odette is sent to the countryside—safer, but not devoid of anti-Semitism—where she spends the rest of the war as a hidden child. When the war ends, Odette, no longer sure how Jewish she feels, is reluctant to return to Paris, memorably described, like the rest of postwar France, as a “gigantic Lost and Found” for Jews seeking missing family members. As Odette starts to understand the extent of the losses her community has suffered, she rediscovers her identity as a Jew. Macdonald used the real Odette’s auto- biography as the basis for this book, and her free-verse narrative is charming and effective. Although Odette’s age is never given, her youthful perspective and the overall nonspecificity about the war, make the book best suited to readers on the younger end of the target audience. Ages 10–14. Agent: Steven Chudney, the Chudney Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 02/26/2013
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