Book Review | Black Radishes
by Susan Lynn Meyer

Score: 2

© 2010, Delacorte Press.

In this novel, based on actual experiences of the author’s father and aunt during the War, young Gustave and his family, who are Jewish, flee the Nazi occupation of Paris and find themselves in a small village right on the border of Occupied and Unoccupied France. In order to obtain food for the family, Gustave’s father travels over the Nazi guarded border between the two “countries” and barters merchandise from his former general store with farmers in the outlying area. He even manages to smuggle Black Market goods – chickens and fresh vegetables – over the border using his Swiss passport, his excellent German, a truck with a false back and by offering the Nazi sentries something he knows they love and miss – black radishes  – to distract them.  Ultimately, his efforts pay off when he and Gustave are able to smuggle their relatives over the border in order to escape from Germany to the United States before the French government turns all Jews, even French born Jews, over to the Nazis.

While this book should not win any prizes for adding to the scope of Holocaust literature, it is interesting in some of the details it provides of life in a small French village far outside Paris and of what people endured trying to get away from the Nazis in France.  In addition, the scenes describing the efforts of the French Resistance in trying to rescue people from the Nazis are compelling.

Grade Level: 5th – 10th

Ages: 10-16

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
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