cover image My Family for the War

My Family for the War

Anne C. Voorhoeve. Dial, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3360-2

This multilayered story, first published in Germany, spotlights the "Kindertransport" of Jewish children to London during WWII. Narrated in memoir style by a charming heroine, Ziska, the novel spans from her 11th birthday to her 19th. The narrative also serves as a thorough introduction to Judaism, as the protagonist%E2%80%94who is not actually Jewish but labeled as such in Berlin because of her Jewish ancestors%E2%80%94joins an Orthodox family in London. Given a new name upon her adoption, she recalls, "I had arrived. I was no longer Ziska. From now on I was Frances, and would never want to be anyone else again." Voorhoeve cogently explores themes of motherhood and adoptive families, conveying the girl's complicated relationship with her narcissistic, unstable birth mother and her growing closeness to her loving adoptive one. Frances's friendship and attraction to her adoptive brother Gary is gracefully portrayed, while the devastating cost of the war is tempered by the words of Ziska's professor friend who tells her, "Live!... And live well! That is the only thing you can do for them." Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (Mar.)