Reviews for Something Remains
Booklist Reviews 2006 August #2
What was it like to be one of only three Jewish kids in a small German town when Hitler came to power? Based on the true story of Erich Levi, age 12 at the time, this novel, first published in Germany, has been translated with simple immediacy. For Erich, "being a Jew was no big deal" until changes begin in his daily life. A teacher leads bullying and insults; classroom exercises label Jews "bloodsuckers"; the Hitler Youth run things. One Gentile friend stays loyal, but only in secret, and Erich's father's business fails. Finally, the family heeds the warnings and leaves for the U.S. The everyday detail may overwhelm many readers, but even given the wealth of Holocaust fiction on shelves today, little has been written about the early years of the Nazis. The truth of the child's viewpoint brings the terror home. Suggest Susan Campbell Bartoletti's Hitler Youth (2005) and Hans B. Richter's Friedrich (1987) to readers wanting other books about the time. ((Reviewed September 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
Twelve-year-old Erich Levi has a comfortable home, a loving family, and every chance for an excellent future. But Erich's life changes forever when the Nazis rise to power. The author, a high school teacher in Germany, was inspired to write this sobering novel by research uncovered by her students. The story provides a portrait of a swiftly changing society. Glos. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 September #1
It's 1933 and 12-year-old Erich Levi and his family are Jews living in rural Germany. A sensitive, hardworking student with dreams of attending university, Erich is too busy with school, friends and bar mitzvah study to pay attention to politics. But after the Nazis assume control, Erich's life as a Jewish boy gradually becomes a nightmare. At school, he is treated harshly, excluded from sports and bullied by classmates who have joined the Hitler Youth. At home, the community boycotts his father's business. Somehow Erich endures, quietly celebrating his bar mitzvah, keeping a low profile in school and briefly falling in love. Isolated, humiliated and terrorized, Erich and his family hold fast to one another grateful for a few loyal neighbors as their lives and dreams shatter. This fictionalized account of the life of the real Levi family between 1933 and 1938 presents a shocking microcosm of Nazi persecution of German Jews, as well as a moving lesson in the evil of mass racial intolerance and the great goodness of individual moral courage as witnessed by an innocent school boy. (epilogue, author's note, notes) (Historical fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 November #4
When the Nazi Party takes over the German government, 12-year-old Erich Levi notices that his once vibrant household has turned somber. "His mother hadn't laughed as often as usual, and his father's mischievous face suddenly looked gaunt." Things also change at school. Daily, Erich faces humiliations by cruel teachers and classmates, and Jews are excluded from extracurricular activities, including sports. The most painful development is that people who once spoke openly to his family now look the other way and refuse to do business with them. Erich's best friend, Kurt, joins the Jungvolk (the junior section of Hitler Youth) and no longer acknowledges Erich for fear of the consequences. Erich struggles to understand why Hitler hates Jews ("We're Germans ourselves!" the boy points out). Life continues year after year in the tranquil village of Ellwangen, but just below the surface brews a mixture of anger and hatred, making life for the few Jewish residents intolerable and dangerous. First-time author Bart-Grzinger wrote Erich's story after doing a research project with her students on the Jewish community in Ellwangen during the Nazi regime (see Children's Books, Oct. 23). "A mixture of fiction and historical fact," according to an author's note, this chilling story asks readers to speculate how the Holocaust could have happened. The child's viewpoint gives the events immediacy, and the author's note offers further historical details about the Levis after they safely emigrated to America. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) [Page 51]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2006 December
Gr 5-8 Erich Levi lives in a small German town at the early stages of the Nazi regime. A well-respected business family, the Levis have always had friends and good relations in their community. Soon after the governmentâ€™s takeover, they begin to experience subtle and then obvious forms of harassment and prejudice both in school and in their everyday dealings with neighbors. Life becomes increasingly more dangerous for Erich, his brother Max, and their cousin Erwin. While life is indeed difficult, the day-by-day portrayal of each additional hardship during the years 1933-1938 becomes a bit tedious. Forced but fortunate to escape to America, the Levisâ€™ wartime experience, while cruel and unjust, provides a view into the early days of a Jewish familyâ€™s struggle to maintain their patriotism and loyalty despite the obvious pressures of religious discrimination and unjustified brutality. This fictionalized window into what are becoming myriad choices in Holocaust literature for young people is an additional purchase. Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI [Page 133]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2007 February
It is 1933 Germany, and Erich Levi is absorbed by typical teenage worries of friends, school, and coping with his pesky younger brother. He is so engrossed in his upcoming bar mitzvah planning that he ignores the names Hindenburg and Hitler, which appear in the local newspaper. Soon, however, when Erich's friends and teachers begin to treat him differently and his father's cattle business suffers, it becomes apparent that something is very rotten in the nation. Events come to a head when obnoxious SS officers push Erich's father's dairy cows into the flooded Jagst river while townsfolk and Levi family neighbors look on Barth-Grözinger's novel covers five years in the life of the Levi family, from their awareness of the Nazi's growing influence on their small town to their exodus to New York. The novel stemmed from an eighteen-month-long collaborative project between the author and her high school students to document the last Jewish community in their hometown of Ellwangen, Germany. This book offers a unique perspective on the Jewish German experience because it begins in the early 1930s and because the family managed to leave Europe before they were forcibly relocated. The project required extensive use of surrounding localities' archives, and the writing reflects the research, sometimes providing overwhelming historical detail. Despite occasional lapses into overwrought storytelling, this novel is a welcome addition to literature on early Nazi Germany.-Angelica Delgado Glossary. Photos. Appendix. 3Q 4P M J Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.