Reviews for Ashes

Booklist Reviews 2010 January #1
*Starred Review* In 1932 Berlin, blond 13-year-old Gabriella looks like the Aryan purists' ideal, but her strongly anti-Fascist family members are derisively called white Jews, and her astrophysicist father is friends with Einstein, whose theory of relativity is termed Jewish physics by the Nazis. From Gabriella's viewpoint, Lasky tells a gripping story about Hitler's early rise to power, including the Germans' bitterness about their suffering after World War I. Though the filling in of background history sometimes feels slightly contrived, the story is strengthened by the complex, individual characters, such as the pro-Hitler maid who is tired of being poor; the beloved teacher, who wants Gabriella to be a Hitler Youth leader; and Gabriella's sister, who becomes pregnant while dating an ardent Nazi. Like Anne Frank, Gabriella loves American movie stars. She is also a big reader, and at the start of each chapter, there is a quote from authors such as Hemingway, Heine, London, Remarque, and Twain, whose books are among those publicly destroyed in the wild, historic book burning that is the climax of this story. From the opening quote, by Heine--Where they burn books, they will end by burning human beings--the personal and the political history will haunt readers. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
In 1932 Berlin, thirteen-year-old, privileged Gaby Schramm refuses to join the Hitler Youth. Lasky effectively explicates the complex history while also depicting the comforts, loyalties, and Nazi-induced tribulations of a thoughtful and humane "Aryan" family. Lasky ends with Germany heading toward world war; of the Schramms' future, we see only their despairing flight from their homeland. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
Gaby Schramm is a child of privilege: her father, a professor at the University of Berlin, is Einstein's good friend; the Schramms' social circle includes celebrated Jewish newspaper columnist Baba Blumenthal and her highly placed connections. In 1932, political turmoil is leading inexorably to Nazi rule. While intellectuals anxiously debate their best course, Gaby observes other reactions: their pro-Hitler maid is smugly triumphant; an opportunistic teacher seizes her chance for power; brown-shirted thugs terrorize the streets. After a gang of boys forces Gaby and her best friend to return its "Heil Hitler," Gaby begins keeping a list of her private moments of shame, refuses to join the Hitler Youth, and finally leaves school in protest. Chapters are headed with telling quotes, notably from books by Hemingway, London, and Twain. _In a horrifying culmination, in 1933 the Nazis burn all these books, along with Einstein's "Jewish science" and thousands of scholarly texts, in a mammoth pyre in the Opernplatz. Lasky interweaves the personal and political with skill, effectively explicating the complex history by reporting such significant events as the Reichstag fire and sampling the rising tide of wrongs, while also depicting -- in well-researched detail -- the comforts, loyalties, and Nazi-induced tribulations of a thoughtful and humane "Aryan" family. Lasky ends with Germany heading toward world war; of the Schramms' future, we see only their despairing flight from their homeland. A historical note introduces the book. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 January #1

In this thoughtful historical novel, Lasky (the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series) chronicles Hitler's rise to power in 1932 Berlin through the intelligent narration of 13-year-old Gaby. The action proves sluggish initially, though it establishes Gaby as a voracious reader growing up in an intellectual, literate family, with a physicist father who works with Einstein and a musically talented mother. Each chapter begins with a well-chosen quote from one of Gaby's beloved books, including The Call of the Wild and The Sun Also Rises. The pacing picks up as Gaby witnesses the rise of the Nazis; she realizes her family's sensible maid supports Hitler and overhears a baker's anti-Semitic remarks. Gaby begins a "Diary of Shame," a mounting list of morally troubling moments, as when she salutes Hitler in school. Suspense builds as teachers lose jobs and as Gaby's sister becomes more seriously involved with her Nazi boyfriend. When book-burning threatens Gaby's precious books (and free thought in Germany), Gaby and her family must make critical, costly choices about their future. Gaby's questioning but assertive nature helps form a compelling, readable portrait of pre-WWII Germany. Ages 11-up. (Feb.)

[Page 47]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 February

Gr 6-10--Lasky's novel, set in Berlin in 1932, opens with an author's note that provides historical background. Gaby Schramm, 13, is an avid reader of world literature, and annoyed that her math teacher confiscates her books. Her unease grows when brown-shirted SA troops of Hitler's private army start occupying the city, signaling a distinct shift toward repression and anti-Semitism. Gaby's father, an astrophysics professor and colleague of Albert Einstein, is troubled that Einstein's work is labeled "Jewish physics," and Gaby's mother begins to fear for the safety of her Jewish friend, Baba. Although fascinated by her stylish literature teacher, Gaby withdraws from school after Fraulein Hofstadt presses her to join the Hitler Youth. Then her older sister becomes pregnant and plans to marry Karl, whom Gaby suspects of being a Nazi. Even when the family vacates to their summer house on a lake in Caputh, they cannot escape the darkening political climate, while back in Berlin, banned books are burned on a mammoth pyre. With a compelling plot, a strong sense of place, and vivid characters, the novel brings to life Hitler's inexorable rise to power and its impact on an intelligent German family forced to reconsider its loyalties.--Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT

[Page 114]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2010 April
Gabrielle Schramm is an inquisitive fourteen-year-old girl living in 1933 Germany when Hitler comes to power. Gaby's father is chairman of the Department of Photoastronomy at the University of Berlin, and her mother is a pianist. Her family has a comfortable life in Berlin that includes a nice home, a housekeeper, and well-known German friends, including Albert Einstein. The terror and violence that Hitler brings to Germany is not only targeted at the Jews and Communists but also intellectuals, artists, and writers. Gaby and her family begin to feel the effects of the Nazi regime, and life as Gaby knows it ceases to exist. The historical information is well written and important to the plot. The novel excerpts at the beginning of each chapter are a wonderful addition to the richness of the story line. It is an important read for studying the Holocaust because it gives perspective to how Hitler rose to power and the immediate aftereffects. Although the main character is a girl, the book is definitely not a girls-only story. The addition of Albert Einstein, interesting astronomy tidbits, the Hitler Youth, and peer pressure make it a good read for all middle school students.--Lona Trulove 4Q 4P M Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.