7 January 2016

Review: Jacqueline by Jackie Minniti

Outstanding Historical Novel for Children

Amazon Description

When ten-year-old Jacqueline Falna hears her mother's scream, she is unaware that the axis of her world is about to tilt. Her father's plane has been shot down by German fighters. In the midst of poverty, food shortages, air raids, and the grinding hardship of daily life under Nazi rule, she forms an unlikely alliance with David Bergier, a twelve-year-old Jewish neighbor who poses as her cousin after his family is "relocated" by the Nazis. When Rennes is liberated, Jacqueline meets an American soldier and becomes convinced that he has been sent to reunite her with her father. Based on a true story, "Jacqueline" is a tale of family, faith, unusual friendships, and the resiliency of the human spirit set against the backdrop of occupied Rennes in 1944. With the drama of fiction and the authenticity of personal history, "Jacqueline" is both a story about family and a family's story.

My Review

Jacqueline is a unique story, because it is based on a real person, the Jacqueline for whom the author was named. I’ve found novels based on true stories often don’t work, perhaps because the author is too concerned for remaining faithful to the truth and forgets that fiction writing has to be about the story. Jacqueline doesn’t make that mistake: it works well as a story.

This could be because of the conflict inherent in the plot. Jacqueline is a twelve-year-old French girl living in the town of Rennes, in German-occupied France in World War II, a time and place where people survived under incredibly difficult circumstances. The story is narrated from Jacqueline’s point of view so does gloss over some of the issues a girl of her age wouldn’t have been understood, which is appropriate for a novel aimed at children.

Jacqueline is an engaging character, and the author brings her to life along with her mother, their Jewish neighbours, and a stray one-eyed cat. It’s an excellent story, and also a way of introducing children to the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust in an age-appropriate manner. Recommended.

Thanks to Anaiah Press for providing a free ebook for review.

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