cover image The Blood Years

The Blood Years

Elana K. Arnold. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-299085-3

In this searing historical novel set in 1939–1945 Romanian Czernowitz, Arnold (Red Hood) presents a deeply personal telling based on her grandmother’s experience living through the Holocaust. After her philandering father abandons the family, Jewish 13-year-old Frederieke Teitler, her mercurial older sister Astra, and their depressed and physically weak mother must rely on Reike’s fiercely kind maternal grandfather Opa, who is a jeweler, to survive. Opa has always acted as her stalwart guardian. But the approach of brewing unrest from neighboring Poland toward Czernowitz—long considered a safe haven for Jews—means that Reike must confront the idea that Opa may not be able to protect her from everything. As war breaks out throughout Europe, Reike struggles to manage relationships with her family and wonders what she’ll have to face to find peace. Arnold confronts tough subjects, including genocide, hunger, rape, and suicide, via unflinching depictions of war and compassionate renderings of intense familial drama. Even amid these somber topics, the author conveys hope and resilience through Reike’s persevering personality and her vulnerable relationships with Astra and Opa. Includes an author’s note, a history of Czernowitz, b&w archival photographs, and a reading list. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)