The War Below

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-338-23302-5
In this compelling work of historical fiction, Skrypuch (Making Bombs for Hitler) conveys the brutality faced by European citizens caught between the Soviets and the Nazis during World War II. In a frank, unflinching voice, Luka recounts being forced from his Ukrainian village to work in a Nazi labor camp, which he escapes by hiding in a truck full of corpses. Luka travels cross-country on foot, hoping to return to Kiev to find his pharmacist father, whose lessons in natural medicine (“You have the tools to heal yourself”) help him survive. Eventually, he finds himself in an underground hospital run by the Ukrainian Red Cross. Haunted by flashbacks from 1941, when residents of Kyiv were brutalized first by the communist secret police and then by the Nazis, Luka joins the Ukrainian Insurgent Army: “As long as you’re willing to stand up to Stalin and Hitler, you can work with us.” The youthful innocence of Luka’s narration, despite the numerous atrocities, losses, and betrayals he experiences, underscores the inherent risks of choosing trust and hope. This story, full of numerous acts of compassion and valor, sheds welcome light on a less familiar battleground of World War II. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-338-60833-5
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