cover image The Extra

The Extra

Kathryn Lasky. Candlewick, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7636-3972-3

Lasky (the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series) delivers a well-researched and uncompromising standalone novel focusing on the Nazi genocide of the Roma and Sinti peoples. Lilo—a Sinti girl of 15 at the beginning of the book—is taken by the Nazis when they start rounding up the Romani of Austria. Lilo’s losses mount quickly as she’s separated from her father and many of her friends; only the opportunity to be an extra in the cast of a film by Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl might save her. Along with a musically gifted boy named Django, Lilo learns the ins and outs of the concentration camps and witnesses the genocide as it affects her loved ones. Lasky’s novel is thorough in its attention to detail, mixing facts like Riefenstahl’s awful behavior toward her charges with the horrific lives of the fictional characters. Only a slightly rushed ending throws off the pace, but even then, between the constant, appalling brutality of the camps and Lilo’s growth over the years, Lasky draws remarkable depth, realism, and even charm out of a bleak story. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)