The House on Schellberg Street By Gill James

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    WHERE IS HOME? Renate Edler loves to visit her grandmother in the house on Schellberg Street. She often meets up with her friend Hani Godde who lives nearby. This year, though, it is not to be. Renate finds out a terrible secret about her family. She has to leave behind her home and her friends and become somebody she never thought she could be.The house on Schellberg Street needs to stay strong. Will it and those who work in it be strong enough?Will Renate ever feel at home again? And what of those left behind? The House on Schellberg Street

    A refreshingly different account of World War II Germany through the eyes of a group of school girls.
    I found this a fascinating read, and was impressed by the amount of detailed research that must have gone into writing this book. Each of the girls has a different story to tell as we follow their progress into young adulthood. The friendship between Hani and Renate, the main characters, was gripping right to the end. A brilliant resource for schools studying World War II. Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fiction Even though this is a very well researched, authentic historical novel, I felt that Renate was a character modern young people (and older people too!) could immediately relate to. When life is seemingly going well for Renate, she is still struck with an inner voice insisting she is not good enough and that she will never be able to escape her fate. Through Renate, the novel also explores questions of identity that I believe are still difficult to individually answer for many people who are not sure where they're supposed to fit into the world.

    The true stories behind this fictionalisation give the novel extra power and poignancy. I would definitely recommend this story. Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fiction This was a fascinating and thought-provoking read. Holocaust books that I've read in the past have been through the eyes of adults. In this book we experience it mainly through the round robin letters of a group of school girls who slowly become aware of some of what's going on but also, increasingly conscious of the police state they're in, trying to put a positive spin on their lives. The two main characters are a Jewish girl who didn't even know she was Jewish who is sent to England and a German girl who risks her life to help the special needs children in a secret school. There were a lot of characters and if I read it again, I'd keep a crib sheet so I could keep track but certainly worth a read. Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fiction very beautiful thought provoking novel

    This is an author who is completely in control of her subject matter, the time period and lively cast of characters are all perfectly presented to create a powerful story. Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fiction At the heart of this story is words--- letters, sent in notebooks, going around and around. A group of German school girls send the notebook to each other, adding a letter each time. The contents cover day-to-day triumphs, disappointments, family, love, illness, work --and the mounting tension and eventual horror of life in the Third Reich.

    Threading in and out of the letters are two main storylines: One follows Renate, a German girl whose life turns upside down when she is told she must immediately move to England. Though they were not observing and she didn't know it, her grandmother and mother are Jewish, and life in Germany is no longer safe for her. Thrust into a totally new life and school, where she does not speak the language, Renate experiences something of a crisis. How can something she wasn't even aware of affect her so much and tear her family apart? Her emotional turmoil only acerbates once Germany and England go to war, and her 'old home starts bombing her new one.' Then there's Hani (Johanna), back in Germany--Renate was her best friend, until her friend mysteriously disappeared--and the story the adults provide doesn't add up. Even more mysterious is Renate's grandmother's house, on Schelberg Street. Though her parents have told her to stay away from it, a random encounter draws Hani into a secret: the house is being used as an underground school for special needs children, and she decides she wants to help....

    'Schelberg Street' is an authentic recording of what regular young girls growing up in Hitler's Third Reich might have seen, thought, felt, feared, and experienced. Patiently, Gill James weaves the story of the two girls and the threads of letters together, until we see their true connection, and all the paths their lives have taken. Extra care was taken, to give those little touches that make life German (or English)--those things we take for granted, until they are gone. A well-researched, thoughtful read that captures how ordinary people might react to extraordinary circumstances... Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fiction


    If I could give this book a 41/2 I would. The research that has gone into the book is worth 5 stars alone. The reason for my 41/2 stars is because the book covers a subject which is both horrifying and sad. The treatment of the Jew during the Second World War has been well documented both in nonfiction and fiction. This book is well written and is great for the YA reader, but not for me, as l read for enjoyment and the subject matter is sad and depressing. I enjoyed the characters and the way the book was written in a series of letters and through a series of different points of view from both England and Germany.
    A YA will learn a lot from this book, and have a greater understanding of the suffering felt by the Jews and their families and friends. I learnt most of my information as a YA in the 1970's watching a TV programme called 'World At War' the images that l saw on it still haunt me today, which is why it is a subject l shy away from when looking a book to read for entertainment. Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fiction I tend to devour books based during WWII, and this was no exception. From the first page you're pulled into the atmosphere, and sense of what's to come. This is a very moving story, very difficult to put down. Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fiction I enjoyed the book especially as it was based on a true story. Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fiction