cover image Escape to the Forest: Based on a True Story of the Holocaust

Escape to the Forest: Based on a True Story of the Holocaust

Ruth Yaffe Radin. HarperCollins, $14.99 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-06-028520-3

A fascinating, little-known chapter of Jewish resistance and survival during the Holocaust is the basis for this novel, but Radin's (All Joseph Wanted) disappointing fictional treatment leaves the most interesting part of the real-life story largely off the page. In 1943, a Polish Jew named Tuvia Bielski established a partisan camp, or otriad, in the forests outside Lida, Poland. The camp eventually encompassed more than 1,200 Jews, who were evacuated by the Russians in 1944. Radin's heroine, who is eight years old when the novel opens in 1939, reaches the otriad just as the book closes, and the information about the otriad is relegated to an endnote. The focus instead is on material covered better elsewhere--the persecution of Polish Jews by first the Russians and then the Germans. Without prior knowledge of the complicated historical background, it may be difficult for young readers to understand the action. The characterizations and scene-setting approach the formulaic, while dialogue referring to the activities of Bielski and his brothers seems tipped in. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 9-up. (Mar.)