Anya's War
Anya Rosen and her family have left their home in Odessa for Shanghai, believing that China will be a safe haven from Hitler's forces. At first, Anya's life in the Jewish Quarter of Shanghai is privileged and relatively carefree: she has crushes on boys, fights with her mother, and longs to defy expectations just like her hero, Amelia Earhart.Then Anya finds a baby--a newborn abandoned on the street. Amelia Earhart goes missing. And it becomes dangerously clear that no place is safe--not for Jewish families like the Rosens, not for Shanghai's poor, not for adventurous women pilots.Based on a true story, here is a rich, transcendent novel about a little-known time in Holocaust history.

Anya's War Details

TitleAnya's War
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 1st, 2011
PublisherFeiwel & Friends/Macmillan
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Historical, Historical Fiction, War, World War II, Literature, Jewish, Fiction, Holocaust

Anya's War Review

  • Margo Tanenbaum
    January 1, 1970
    In her debut novel for young adults, San Francisco writer Andrea Alban mines her own family history to weave a compelling coming-of-age story of a fourteen-year old Russian-Jewish girl and her family in 1937 Shanghai. Anya and her family had left their comfortable life in Odessa, where Mama was an opera singer and Papa was a journalist, because Papa wouldn't join the Communist Party, and sought safety from the Russian Secret Police in far-off Shanghai, then a safe-haven for many Jews. The story In her debut novel for young adults, San Francisco writer Andrea Alban mines her own family history to weave a compelling coming-of-age story of a fourteen-year old Russian-Jewish girl and her family in 1937 Shanghai. Anya and her family had left their comfortable life in Odessa, where Mama was an opera singer and Papa was a journalist, because Papa wouldn't join the Communist Party, and sought safety from the Russian Secret Police in far-off Shanghai, then a safe-haven for many Jews. The story opens with Anya writing a list of wishes in her diary. Their servant, Li Mei, has told her that planting wishes under a full moon gives them the best chance of coming true. What does a 14-year old girl in 1937 Shanghai wish for? She wishes Amelia Earhart, her idol, will be found safe somewhere in the Pacific. She also struggles with telling her mother the truth about her hopes for the future--going to university in the United States, not becoming an opera singer like her mother. "I am absolutely, one hundred percent certain that I don't want to sing opera. I think." And she's trying to think of something witty to say to a boy she likes at the bowling club, hoping her right bosom will grow extra fast to catch up without her left side, and last but not least, wishing "the Japanese would stop killing Chinese children by accident." But Anya's life changes when she discovers, on her way home from purchasing the family's food for Sabbath dinner, an abandoned basket with an unwanted newborn girl baby inside. What should she do? The baby was thrown away by her family, but Jews don't throw out baby girls, Anya tells herself. "All girls are precious. We're all the same." She impulsively decides to take the baby home with her, where she is helped by her best friend, Giselle, and Li Mei. Will her mother allow her to keep the baby safe? But Anya soon learns that no place is safe, especially for her new friend Gabriel and his father, who fled anti-semitism in Italy, or even in Shanghai, where unexpected danger lurks. Alban paints a detailed picture of the exotic Jewish life in Shanghai, from the trip to the kosher butcher to the synagogue to celebrating the Sabbath rituals in their home, with a meal cooked by their Chinese servant. She writes with great affection for her characters and their hopes and fears, and young readers will readily identify with Anya and her companions. The author incorporates some romance as well, as Anya dreams about boys and even gets her first (very innocent) kiss. An author's note explains how Alban grew up hearing stories of her father's Jewish childhood in the French Quarter of Shanghai, China, and how the small community of 4,000 Jews swelled to 20,000 with the influx of Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler. The Jews that arrived after 1937 were herded by the Japanese invaders into the Hongkew Ghetto, a little-known chapter of Holocaust history. This book is the first in a trilogy that will go through the end of World War II, and subsequent volumes will tell more about Anya's family and this fascinating chapter in history.
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  • Julie Goot
    January 1, 1970
    A great window into a fascinating and horrific time period set in Shanghai and from a child's perspective. Loved how the author explored the innermost thoughts of Anya, and painted a picture of everyday reality with the ominous backdrop of what is yet to come. I can''t wait to read more about Anya's world - I am looking forward to a Book 2! A must read for all middle school and high school reading
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  • Claire Hattendorf
    January 1, 1970
    This book was a page turner for me. I couldn't put it down! The research that went into this book created an all-consuming view of a horrible past for the Jews. The author writes in a way that takes the reader 'right there' inside the story.I'm so proud to know Andrea; it's great to have a friend that is such an accomplished writer!
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  • Barb VanderWel
    January 1, 1970
    wtg. love it love it
  • Ruth
    January 1, 1970
    This is the kind of book people write up because they have too much time on their hands and just go fired from their job. I always compare books to food, but this time is an exception. So go rest your eyes or something before you read what I'm about to write next............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. This is the kind of book people write up because they have too much time on their hands and just go fired from their job. I always compare books to food, but this time is an exception. So go rest your eyes or something before you read what I'm about to write next..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................Okay. Here goes:You know those cakes that look all pretty and stuff in the shop window, and you feel that need to buy it so much because its appearance is so pretty and you feel like you'll never see a prettier cake in your life ever again and besides, it would be the PERFECT cake to buy for that special occasion although you could care less for the person or event it's celebrating and you know that you're probably going to be the only person eating that cake because there will be a lot of other cakes and dessert delicacies there at the event? So you go ahead, say SCREW IT and buy the cake, only to "realize" that you'd gotten the date of that notorious event wrong and it's actually next week, so you go home, walk into your kitchen, rip apart that fancy box which the cake had been implanted in, get out your prettiest china plate to match the prettiest cake you've ever seen in your life, cut yourself an ample slice of that gorgeous masterpiece, and slowly take a bite, preparing to savor the moment and the taste.Then you realize.Oh no.You've been robbed. You've been cheated, been as blind as the old lady next door.You failed to consider the facts before you'd gone ahead and bought that false jewel. As pretty as cakes look on the outside, as magnificently adorned, garnished, whipped, ornamented, or even sauteed to perfection, it's actually the plain cake that will win you over. Both the frosting on top and the cake inside have to fit as well as, well as well as PB&J. (Yes, i did just notice that i used the word "sautee". You can't sautee a cake, can you?)Okay, I've given part one of my comparison, I just need to explain how that fits into this book, and countless other sh!tty books such as this one.This book had promise. A great idea, plot, and a fabulously clever book cover. (Now i'm just exaggerating. But i liked the book cover). But from page three, you began to notice something wrong. Books need a direct PLOT, something that should be prominent sometime in the first to second shapter.This didn't happen. Page after page after page after page was overflowing with a strenuous amount of information, facts, and other not necessarily useful stuff to know. The exposition seemed to go on forever, and by the time I'd gotten to the 10 page, I felt ready to die. THERE WAS NO DIRECT PLOT. All it was, was a large, meandering, useless junky trashy book of INFORMATION! INFORMATION IS GOOD. BUT WHEN IT'S EXPLOITED AND HAS EXHAUSTED ITSELF OUT LIKE IN THIS BOOK, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR THE CHARACTERS TO BECOME INTERESTING, THE PLOT TO BECOME PLOTTY, OR FOR A STORY TO ACTUALLY DEVELOP. I absolutely hate it when authors do this to their readers. They seem to think they can get away with presenting a person with a bright idea, (which in my mind is as good as any Christmas present) then completely going under the roof and taking that bright idea apart, piece by piece by piece. Yes, I am done with my review. Or rant. Or whatever this sort of thing may be called. I just realized that I didn't even technically write a review. It was more like the confessions of some madwoman from an Edgar Allan Poe story who's gone bipolar and burned all her books. I just made that up.Okay, I have a confession. That cake comparison? I'd made that up completely. Actually, I don't like cake very much at all. But i can tell a bad cake from a normal cake. I know what you're thinking, WHO FRIGGEN CARES ABOUT THE CAKE, YOU JUST WASTED TEN MINUTES OF MY LIFE.I'm sorry.I apologize.But i just felt the need to write out my feelings on the ridiculous way that books are getting published these days.They can be sold with a bright, garishly attracting cover, yet when readers actually go and read the book, they realize that it's nothing but a giant, dry, crackly base cake.
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  • Allison
    January 1, 1970
    This is historical fiction for real lovers of historical fiction. Although there are a few well-crafted sequences of suspense that will appeal even to those who typically shun historical fiction, most of the narrative is devoted to detailing Anya's daily life in Shanghai, and will be best appreciated by those who truly love to immerse themselves in another time and place. Full review at Reading Everywhere.
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  • Samantha Hastings
    January 1, 1970
    Author Andrea Alban packs a lot of character development, culture, and history in her novel about two days in Shanghai. Teens will find the story compelling and Anya’s character to be likeable and entirely relatable. Despite what is happening around her, Anya is still a teenage girl who is worried about her bra size, cute boys, and telling her parents about her dreams for the future.
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  • Elise Holland
    January 1, 1970
    Uprooted from her home in Odessa, Anya and her family must make their way in 1937 Shanghai. As if the political climate isn’t bad enough, the boy she likes is impossibly out of her league. She and her family do their best to adapt to Chinese customs, while holding fast to their Jewish traditions but when Anya finds an abandoned baby girl and decides to bring her home, it appears nothing will be the same again.ANYA’S WAR is a beautifully- written story about a Jewish girl on the cusp of womanhood Uprooted from her home in Odessa, Anya and her family must make their way in 1937 Shanghai. As if the political climate isn’t bad enough, the boy she likes is impossibly out of her league. She and her family do their best to adapt to Chinese customs, while holding fast to their Jewish traditions but when Anya finds an abandoned baby girl and decides to bring her home, it appears nothing will be the same again.ANYA’S WAR is a beautifully- written story about a Jewish girl on the cusp of womanhood. With evocative descriptions of places and emotions, I was transported into the life of this incredibly colorful family. This is an excellent read for children aged 10 and up.
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  • Charles Weinblatt
    January 1, 1970
    Anya’s War is a tender coming-of-age tale of a Jewish girl whose family escaped to Shanghai from the impending Nazi takeover of their home in Russia. Fourteen year-old Anya Rosen’s father believed that China would be a safe reprieve for Jews escaping from Hitler’s vow to punish the Jewish people. Although the characters are fictional, the story is real and based upon the author’s ancestors. Alban’s compelling characters elucidate the very real terror of Jews living in China during the early year Anya’s War is a tender coming-of-age tale of a Jewish girl whose family escaped to Shanghai from the impending Nazi takeover of their home in Russia. Fourteen year-old Anya Rosen’s father believed that China would be a safe reprieve for Jews escaping from Hitler’s vow to punish the Jewish people. Although the characters are fictional, the story is real and based upon the author’s ancestors. Alban’s compelling characters elucidate the very real terror of Jews living in China during the early years of the Holocaust. Anya’s War is rich with metaphor and reality, a powerful combination during an explosive era of world war and genocide. Alban delivers a persuasive dose of a dichotomous society where timeless class structure results in domination of the wealthy over the poor. Anya was raised in a moderately wealthy family in Odessa, which was transformed into an upper-class family in China. She soon became immersed within a culture that included suffering, yet devoted servants and the condescending wealthy. Anya arrives as a typical adolescent, filled with curiosity, plans within plans and a burgeoning interest in boys. Like many adolescent girls of the time, Anya has natural heroes. She greatly admires Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt. She also plans to live in The United States and become a physician, like her aunt. Like all teenagers, Anya fights with her parents. She is especially defiant with her dominating mother, who has other plans for Anya’s career. At the same time, Anya explores deepening feelings for a boy in her class at school. Woven into Anya’s life are her doting parents, grandparents, brother, friends and servants. Except for her parents, these characters possess rudimentary depth. Yet, the events and circumstances surrounding Anya are described with delightful depth. Alban’s descriptions of life in China are terrific and she pulls the reader along with vibrant flow and intensity. Because she lives in relative wealth and attends the Jewish school in Shanghai, the morass of subjugation, starvation and hopelessness prevalent among Chinese remains just below Anya’s radar. Anya races around Shanghai in her bicycle, visiting friends and running errands. She has a new camera which she uses to take pictures along her way. Anya takes advantage of her newly-acquired ability to bargain with sellers in the market.One day, Anya discovers an discarded newborn girl in a basket. She brings the baby home, to the horror of the entire household. Anya immediately loves and cares for the abandoned child. She is determined to keep the baby and proffers the child a name. At the same time, her father brings home a new Jewish family in Shanghai, including a boy who sweeps Anya off her feet. One day, Anya’s younger brother follows her on an unapproved trip into Shanghai, during which a Chinese bomber accidentally drops bombs upon the city. The resulting disaster leaves Anya’s brother seriously injured. Alone and deeply frightened, Anya must find a way to save her brother’s life. Alban brings to light that mystifying, confusing time of life in which Anya is neither child nor adult, but some confusing stage in between. This story becomes an exploration of adolescent desire and passion, a newfound freedom chained with responsibility, underpinned by the desire to remain a part of a nurturing, loving family. Alban’s writing style is structured, cogent and evocative. Her protagonist and the primary characters are entertaining, well developed and delivered with expressive dialog. They induce depth and fervor. Anya’s character is powerful and seductive. One can feel her empathy, defiance, curiosity and passion. However, the secondary characters are less well developed, leaving the reader with a somewhat murky sense of their personality features. The family’s Jewish identity is carefully elucidated through the manner in which they honor the Sabbath, observe holidays, recall the past and enjoy valued traditions. Interspersed in the dialog are Yiddish words used to convey more expressive meaning. Anya’s War is a powerful novel of cultures, adolescent emotions, aspiration, passion, fear and anticipation. Within it, we glimpse wartime China, its deep-seated traditions, structures, classes and beauty. Alban also delivers the devastation, anxiety and terror of war. Here we find a bright, expressive teenager named Anya, who is struggling to become an independent young adult, learning valuable life lessons from venerable servants, friends and family. The pace of this novel increases exponentially, with an explosive conclusion.
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  • Vivian Murray
    January 1, 1970
    Currently I am reading all things "Shanghai" and since my mom was a girl growing up in Shanghai, I found Anya's War to be an interesting perspective. Simple read but a fresh perspective of a complex subject in a very multi-cultural city during the beginning of WWII.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    This book wasn't really what I thought, but I still enjoyed it. The author captured the thoughts and feelings of a 14-year-old girl really well.
  • Rick Silva
    January 1, 1970
    This story, based on the experiences of the author's family, takes place during the years leading up to World War II when Shanghai was the only port in the world that was open to Jewish refugees fleeing fascism in Europe and Stalinism in Russia. I visited the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum last fall and was immediately intrigued when I found this book at my school's book fair.The story takes place over just a few days, as Anya Rosen, the oldest child of a family who moved to Shanghai from Odess This story, based on the experiences of the author's family, takes place during the years leading up to World War II when Shanghai was the only port in the world that was open to Jewish refugees fleeing fascism in Europe and Stalinism in Russia. I visited the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum last fall and was immediately intrigued when I found this book at my school's book fair.The story takes place over just a few days, as Anya Rosen, the oldest child of a family who moved to Shanghai from Odessa, finds an abandoned baby in the streets. As she attempts to insure to safety of the baby girl, Anya deals with family conflicts, clashes of cultures, and finally the grim arrival of war in the place she had believed could be a refuge.I loved the fast pacing of the story, and the even-faster workings of Anya's mind as she juggles her hopes and dreams with the rapid succession of events that throws her family into turmoil. The characters are engaging, fun, and colorful. Anya's thoughts are all over the map, and her young energy drives the story along.The mixing of cultures provides flavor, as bits of language, tradition, and folklore from the Russian-Jewish, Chinese, French, and American traditions meet and mix, sometimes within the space of a sentence.The story doesn't answer all of the questions that the reader might have. There is a fair amount left unresolved. But I still found the emotional arc of the story to be satisfying, and I loved how immersed I felt in the life of Shanghai in the 1930s.
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  • Kelsey
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to learn so much more about the Russian Jews who went to China as I wasn't aware that this was something that happened. This was not that book. I never really got into the characters. Anya didn't feel like she was an authentic character I could relate to. No one really felt like they were in danger until we got to Shanghai. Pass this one up.
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  • Barb
    January 1, 1970
    Would give 3.5 stars. Part of Holocaust/WWII history I didn't know. Jews fled to China from Russia. This was based on the author's father's life but story changed to the viewpoint of a 14 yr old girl.
  • Teresa
    January 1, 1970
    So much potential with this one, but I struggled to get fully engaged until the last great chapters. Learned a lot about shabbat customs, though, which was more interesting than the actual plot
  • Kinzie Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    The book was great, some parts were a little confusing...I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought so. But overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it.
  • Katy Morrical
    January 1, 1970
    i really thought this was going to be a different type of story than what it was. I found it choppy and missing a good flow. Not a fan.
  • Carmen
    January 1, 1970
    super easy read...took me so long to finish it because I would only read at work, then took a couple weeks off. kind of disappointing ending, hoped for something more.
  • Lyd
    January 1, 1970
    It has been a real long time since I picked up this one but the history of Russian emigres in China has always interested me.
  • Kathryn Mueller
    January 1, 1970
    Anya's War was not what I expected. I knew it was about a Jewish family around the time of World War II--but this family moved to Shanghai, China, where they could live freely as Jews. And in China, the coming war is presented from a different perspective. The main threat comes not from the Nazis, but from the Japanese.Even so, the tension that comes up most often in the narrative (other than family squabbles) is not from the Japanese military invasions, but rather the obvious and occasionally a Anya's War was not what I expected. I knew it was about a Jewish family around the time of World War II--but this family moved to Shanghai, China, where they could live freely as Jews. And in China, the coming war is presented from a different perspective. The main threat comes not from the Nazis, but from the Japanese.Even so, the tension that comes up most often in the narrative (other than family squabbles) is not from the Japanese military invasions, but rather the obvious and occasionally awkward contrast between Jewish and Chinese culture. Both are painted as fairly superstitious, rule-based ways of life, but the rules for each are very different. Anya doesn't seem to have a very firm grasp of the religion she practices, and breaks her Jewish rules many times over the few days chronicled in the book. And occasionally, she will wish that she had paid more attention to Li Mei's Taoist charms and rituals, in the off chance that they might actually work.The narrative is strong, and the tensions in the book constantly propel the reader forward to the end. But there are some weaknesses in the book too. For one thing, there is relatively little character development. Anya and her mother both change a small amount, and there is an absolutely beautiful passage when Mr. Rosen is talking about loving and caring for his wife. But on the whole, all these different events come and go, and the relative effect on the characters is surprisingly minimal.Another weakness in the book is the title. I honestly don't know what it refers to. In the story, World War II has not officially started, and though the growing tension and persecution was the main reason they moved, it is not clear that the title refers to that. I thought for a while that the issue of the Chinese "throwing out" their baby girls might be something that Anya herself would "wage war" against, but this is not the case either. She cares for the one baby girl, but doesn't seem to think about starting any kind of campaign to save the lives of Chinese babies. When the bombs went off, I thought that it could be the start of fighting or of some war, but the bombs turned out to be an accident when transporting unstable Chinese bombers to a safer location. It may seem picky, but I do think that the book as a whole would be a lot stronger if it had a title that clearly connected with the story. Without a clear connection between the title and the story, I have a very hard time discerning what is the main point of this story.But even without a "main" point, reading this book could be fruitful. The book is based off of the author's (Andrea Alban) own experience, and provides a truly unique view of some Jews' experience in the late 1930s and early 1940s. I certainly learned a lot about Jewish and Chinese culture! I would say that you should approach this book as something light, interesting, and slightly educational, but don't expect it to be a page-turning thriller or a life-changing drama. for a full review/summary, go here: http://skippingbarefoot.blogspot.com/...
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  • Chrys Fey
    January 1, 1970
    Anya is a young Jewish girl living in China with her family after they left their home in Odessa to escape Hitler. One day, while going on an errand, she finds an abandoned baby girl near her house. She tries to chase after a woman she suspects is the mother, but loses her. So she feels she has no other choice but to bring the baby home.I had thought the story was going to be about this baby girl she finds, but soon after she brings the baby home, it becomes about boys. One boy who she knew in s Anya is a young Jewish girl living in China with her family after they left their home in Odessa to escape Hitler. One day, while going on an errand, she finds an abandoned baby girl near her house. She tries to chase after a woman she suspects is the mother, but loses her. So she feels she has no other choice but to bring the baby home.I had thought the story was going to be about this baby girl she finds, but soon after she brings the baby home, it becomes about boys. One boy who she knew in school, and another she meets that night through her father's acquaintance. I then thought it would've been about this boy and the baby, but then there's another turn of events; a bombing. This bombing was the most exciting part of the story. I wish the aftermath of this had lasted longer, though. Before I knew it, the story was ending. So, to me, this story felt like jumping from one thing to another rather quickly with fast resolutions. I did enjoy learning about what it was like in China during this time, as well as the customs of both the Chinese and the Jews. This is a good story for young kids to read and to learn about this period. And it will be an easy read for them. There's just some terms in different languages, and probably some of the Jewish customs for Sabbath, that they may not understand.What is really interesting is that it's based on a true story from the author's family. That makes this story pretty interesting.
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  • Adrienne
    January 1, 1970
    Fourteen-year-old Anya is a Jewish girl who has recently moved with her family from their home in Odessa to Shanghai to escape persecution in the years prior to World War II. Anya must deal with changes in her family (her mother is no longer the loving, fun woman she was in Russia), adjusting to a new country, and the normal aspects of being a teenage girl (namely, dealing with boys). At the same time, she is worried about her missing heroine, Amelia Earhart, and whether or not Japan will be att Fourteen-year-old Anya is a Jewish girl who has recently moved with her family from their home in Odessa to Shanghai to escape persecution in the years prior to World War II. Anya must deal with changes in her family (her mother is no longer the loving, fun woman she was in Russia), adjusting to a new country, and the normal aspects of being a teenage girl (namely, dealing with boys). At the same time, she is worried about her missing heroine, Amelia Earhart, and whether or not Japan will be attacking Shanghai.This story, based on the author's ancestors' experiences, addresses an aspect of World War II and the Holocaust that isn't normally addressed, but at the same time, I found it hard to get into the story. There seemed to be a lot going on, but it isn't weaved together well enough to make it a truly cohesive piece of writing. Also, while the Hebrew and Chinese phrases and customs thrown in give the book an authentic feel, they are used in such a way that they seem to break up the flow of the story rather than contribute to it; I think most readers will be frustrated by it rather than drawn into the different cultures.
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  • Elle Drue
    January 1, 1970
    Anti-Semitism is on a rise in Europe, and many countries are no longer safe for Jewish families. Anya Rosen and her family are forced to move from their home in Ukraine to start a new life, free from oppression in Shanghai, China. Anya is a typical fourteen-year-old girl but with dreams as monumental as her hero Amelia Earhart. Her ambitions consistently rebel against her traditional Jewish heritage, as well as her mother’s overbearing desire to see Anya become an opera singer. When Anya decides Anti-Semitism is on a rise in Europe, and many countries are no longer safe for Jewish families. Anya Rosen and her family are forced to move from their home in Ukraine to start a new life, free from oppression in Shanghai, China. Anya is a typical fourteen-year-old girl but with dreams as monumental as her hero Amelia Earhart. Her ambitions consistently rebel against her traditional Jewish heritage, as well as her mother’s overbearing desire to see Anya become an opera singer. When Anya decides to care for an abandoned Chinese infant on the street, she begins to better understand the universal inequality shown not only to Jews but to women from other cultures. This historical fiction novel demonstrates the terror of one family’s attempt to escape the persecution during the early years of the Holocaust. Aldan offers readers a profound and sincere voice of a young girl struggling to secure her identity as a Jewish female within her family and society during one of history’s darkest moments. Highly recommended to use as a starting point for discussion of the history of World War II, the Holocaust, and culturally defined gender roles.
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  • Casper
    January 1, 1970
    anya and her family have moved to shanghai from odessa to escape persecution from stalin's goverment. anya struggles with her family's expectations of her, especially her mother. in the midst of it all, she finds an abandoned newborn in the street and attempts to take her in/find her a home.liked it a lot. not super heavy on plot, that might rub some readers the wrong way. loads of information-can be slightly overwhelming, especially because of the staccato writing style (though I felt like that anya and her family have moved to shanghai from odessa to escape persecution from stalin's goverment. anya struggles with her family's expectations of her, especially her mother. in the midst of it all, she finds an abandoned newborn in the street and attempts to take her in/find her a home.liked it a lot. not super heavy on plot, that might rub some readers the wrong way. loads of information-can be slightly overwhelming, especially because of the staccato writing style (though I felt like that was just mimicking anya's scattered thoughts, made it very believable to me). interesting themes. a girl struggling to make sense of her self and of the rules that exclude her, as a girl, from doing many things. some (slightly buried?) themes of class privilege, and of the power dynamics between the different groups of jewish immigrants to shanghai, as well as between the jewish expats and the chinese people living in shanghai--all of which are coded heavily in race and culture clashes.
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  • Tanja
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoy reading historical fiction because it never stops to amaze me how little I know about the past, even on a topic like World War II. I often feel I have read so much about it, learned so much about it in school and yet there are always new things to discover. Like here: I had no idea that there was an exiled Jewish community in Shanghai. This book provides an interesting glimpse into what there lives looked like. I was also fascinated to find out that the story is based on the author's fam I enjoy reading historical fiction because it never stops to amaze me how little I know about the past, even on a topic like World War II. I often feel I have read so much about it, learned so much about it in school and yet there are always new things to discover. Like here: I had no idea that there was an exiled Jewish community in Shanghai. This book provides an interesting glimpse into what there lives looked like. I was also fascinated to find out that the story is based on the author's family history.
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  • Mara
    January 1, 1970
    This was a fairly interesting "lifetime" story. Anya is certainly an entertaining enough heroine, with a good amount of opinions and no lack of gumption. And it is not many Authors who explore the Jewish communities which sprang up in Shanghai during this era. But is it an entertaining story? An engaging one? Well, for a relaxed evening, where you just want a short little read with a not very complex storyline, it is a fitting book. It's a fast read, but it's definitely one that you have to be i This was a fairly interesting "lifetime" story. Anya is certainly an entertaining enough heroine, with a good amount of opinions and no lack of gumption. And it is not many Authors who explore the Jewish communities which sprang up in Shanghai during this era. But is it an entertaining story? An engaging one? Well, for a relaxed evening, where you just want a short little read with a not very complex storyline, it is a fitting book. It's a fast read, but it's definitely one that you have to be in the right mood to read.
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  • Mary Ann
    January 1, 1970
    Anya and her Jewish family have moved from Russia to Shanghai prior to WWII. The persecution of Jews has led many to leave their homelands and seek sanctuary elsewhere. At fourteen Anya is more concerned with a normal teen’s interest until faced with the reality that babies girls were being discarded if they were girls. Though this doesn’t deal with the actual war it does address the value of human life.
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  • Heidi
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting perspective on being a Jew during WWII ~ but in Shanghai, where the threat comes from the Japanese, not the Nazis. I enjoyed that it was based on a true story. It was definitely interesting to see the Chinese and Jewish cultures intermingled. The plot and writing style could be stronger, but I still enjoyed it.
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  • Robin
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this look at the Jewish refugee community in China. Where it disappoints is that it is supposedly for YA readers, but provides too few clues to the history and context and waaaay too many characters and scenarios. It took over 50 pages for me to feel invested enough to commit to finishing it. I don't think teens will give it that chance.
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  • Megan Fuller
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book, as I live in the city where it is set. I had no idea how much tension there was between Jews and others at the time, even in Shanghai. And my heart broke for the unwanted babies (especially baby girls). This book gave me a new appreciation for children, mothers who had more than one child, and those who fought for their childrens' lives.
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