cover image To Cross a Line

To Cross a Line

Karen Ray. Scholastic, $15.95 (154pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06831-1

As this dramatic historical novel opens, 17-year-old Egon Katz is smiling to himself as he delivers bread and Christmas cookies to the neighbors. But something is wrong with this picture of holiday cheer: it is Germany in 1938 and Egon is a Jew. Kristallnacht has just occurred; Egon has already been humiliated in school and denied basic rights, and his sister's mysterious disappearance is met by indifference by the police. He knows not to attract the attention of the Gestapo, but disastrously, he does exactly that when he gets into a traffic accident which is the fault of a prominent Nazi Party member. Egon then becomes a fugitive. After wending a tortuous route, he arrives at the Danish border on Christmas Day and eventually gains freedom through the good will of a Danish sergeant. This true story about the author's father-in-law is not unrealistically upbeat, however, and Ray describes the particular fates of members of Egon's family in an afterword. Told in straightforward prose, the story is absorbing, hopeful yet not naive. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)