cover image Anna Is Still Here

Anna Is Still Here

Ida Vos. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-395-65368-5

Vos's autobiographical Hide and Seek ranks among the best middle grade fiction about the Holocaust; this story, a sequel of sorts, is even better. Anna, a Dutch Jewish girl, has survived the war in hiding. She returns to school--a fifth-grader although she's 13--and is reunited with her parents, who cannot yet bring themselves to tell her about their own ordeal (they spent years in a forest, living below the ground). She knows a little about the concentration camps--enough to be aware that her best friend has been murdered in one--and she struggles to accommodate her knowledge, her sense of her parents' vulnerability, her own deeply inculcated terrors and her eagerness to rejoin the world. Vos conveys Anna's heartbreaking and heroic efforts with exemplary economy, and the anguish of Anna's story is balanced by a subplot, however contrived, about another survivor being reunited against all odds with her seven-year-old daughter. Vos looks beyond the usual ``happy'' ending of survivor stories, which typically conclude with liberation or shortly thereafter, to pose more thoughtful questions about the price of survival; her answers are hard-won and profoundly stirring. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)