April 18, 2010


Ashes by Kathryn Lasky
Teen Fiction (Historical)
2010 Viking Juvenile
Finished on 4/6/10
Rating: 3.5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Berlin, 1932: In many ways thirteen-year-old Gabriella Schramm lives a charmed, carefree life. She loves her parents and her sister, Ulla. She loves her new literature teacher. She loves her family’s summer lake house, next door to Albert Einstein’s. And most of all, Gaby loves books.

But soon she begins losing these things as Hitler unstoppably climbs to power. People Gaby thought she could trust turn out to be Nazis. Many of her friends are fleeing, or, worse, being taken away. And there’s something troubling about Ulla’s boyfriend that Gaby can’t quite figure out. As always, she turns to her books for comfort—but even those are disappearing.

Newbery Honor winner and master of historical fiction Kathryn Lasky once again brings the past to life with this searing portrait of a nation on the brink of war, and a girl whose life is about to change.

I think I should stop looking for another Book Thief and just go ahead and re-read that fantastic novel. Every other young adult book I've read about the Holocaust and World War II pales in comparison. Ashes was, by far, much better than The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, but it still lacked the literary finesse of Markus Zusak's brilliant novel. I enjoyed Gaby's story and read the book in less than 24 hours, and yet the plot felt contrived. Every opportunity to teach the reader a point in history (including placing key figures, such as Goebbels and Einstein within Gaby's world) was utilized. Zusak did the same, but his historical scenes were seamlessly woven into the storyline. Show, don't tell.


  1. It sounds like everything will have trouble living up to The Book Thief. I need to read that book!

  2. I still rave over The Book Thief as well. Sometimes it just crosses my mind at random moments and I wish I was reading it for the first time again. While this one sounds good, it's obviously not TBT. Oh well. Maybe one day another one will come along.

  3. Yeah, sounds like you should just reread The Book Thief. Like Tammy, I occasionally think about it and wish I could read it again without knowing how it will end. It's a rare and special book.

  4. Kathy - Yes, you do! I plan to read it again sometime this summer.

    Tammy - Wasn't it a GREAT book? I almost grabbed the audio the other day at the library, but something else caught my eye. I'll read it again, but I also want to give it a listen.

    Nancy - Yep, hopefully this summer. It really was a special book. Books like it only come along once in a blue moon.

  5. Can you believe I've never read the Book Thief yet? I have it on my shelves and everything. I think I got burnt out on the WW2 time period. Maybe I'll pick it up though because so many people have raved about it!

  6. Christina - Oh, how wonderful for you to have The Book Thief to read for the very first time! I'm so envious. Yes, it's about WWII, but it's told in such a unique fashion, it really doesn't feel like a war novel. Don't wait too long to read it. I keep saying I need to give it a second reading. Maybe this summer. No, really! ;)


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