Almost Autumn

Marianne Kaurin, trans. from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-545-88965-0
Kaurin’s subtly devastating novel traces the gradual disintegration of Jewish life in Oslo, Norway, during the last months of 1942. While focusing on dreamy-eyed 15-year-old Ilse Stern and her crush on neighbor Hermann Rod, the story unfolds from several points of view, including those of Hermann (whose sudden interest in painting is a cover for his work in the Resistance) and a non-Jewish neighbor who is unwillingly thrust into an important role in the removal of Jews from the city. Even as daily life for Jews in Oslo takes on ominous changes (Ilse’s school is taken over by German soldiers, customers dwindle at her father’s tailor shop, and Jews’ identification papers are stamped with the letter J), Ilse and her older sister, Sonja, are lost in their personal dreams, pushing aside the increasingly threatening situation until the day their father is arrested and their own futures suddenly seem uncertain. In her first novel, Norwegian author Kaurin doesn’t flinch from describing the details of the ultimate fate of the Stern family, offering an intimate, chilling look at an individual family’s experience of the Holocaust. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2016
Release date: 01/03/2017
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