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Paperback The Devil's Arithmetic Book

ISBN: 0140345353

ISBN13: 9780140345353

The Devil's Arithmetic

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Book Overview

"A triumphantly moving book." -- Kirkus Reviews , starred review Hannah dreads going to her family's Passover Seder--she's tired of hearing her relatives talk about the past. But when she opens the front door to symbolically welcome the prophet Elijah, she's transported to a Polish village in the year 1942. Why is she there, and who is this "Chaya" that everyone seems to think she is? Just as she begins to unravel the mystery, Nazi soldiers come to...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

A Powerful Read

Wow! As a Jewish girl I too felt the way Hannah does about tradition. After reading this book I realize I've been a fool to ignore what happened then to what has occurred in our world since. Hannah's journey is skillfully told but saying anything here will ruin the read for others. Suffice it to say this is a book for everyone, not just teens. The message is subtle but clear and the story draws the reader in and doesn't release them even after there are no more pages to read. A must read book for everyone.

A very moving account of the realities of the Second World War in Eastern Europe

It continues to astound me that there are people who deny The Holocaust. In some sense I can understand it because it is so difficult to believe that such a thing could have been done as a part of official state policy. Nevertheless, the documentation is so overwhelming that the people who deny it look like pathetic fools. This story describes the events in one of the camps, but from a unique perspective. Hannah is a young girl living in New Rochelle, New York in modern times. She is with her family and they are going to a Passover service at the home of her elderly relatives that survived the camps. Hannah is a bit rebellious, growing tired of the rituals and wishing she were elsewhere. Everything changes when Hannah opens the door as a symbolic gesture to let the Prophet Elijah into their home to take part in the ceremony. Suddenly, she is now Chaya, a Jewish girl in Eastern Europe during the Second World War. Shortly after she arrives, the Jews in their shtetl are rounded up, packed into railroad cars and shipped off to a death camp. Her life then becomes a daily challenge to survive. Like all the others in the camp Chaya is now being slowly worked and starved to death, looking over at the smoke rising from the crematoriums and knowing what it means. Her "time" at the camp ends when she is with four friends and a guard comes over and says he must select three of them to be killed. After all, he has a daily quota that must be filled. Suddenly, she is Hannah once more and she looks at her Aunt Eva and she can explain the meaning of the tattoo on Eva's arm. Furthermore, she recognizes her Aunt Eva and Grandpa Will as people she knew in the camp. This realization changes her outlook on her Jewish heritage as she now has firsthand knowledge of what took place. This book is very moving and descriptive of those terrible times. The perspective is always that of a young girl, although she grows up very fast once she arrives at the camps. It should be required reading for all middle school children. While some may object to the depictions of brutality, the history of the human race is not pretty, and the best way to avoid the ugliness is to understand the consequences.

Why We Need to Remember...

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen is an excellent book at any time of year, but a great choice to read in honor of both Passover and Yom Ha'Shoah. The story involves 12 year old Hannah, who is bored out of her mind at her family's Seder in the current day, and just being an unhappy typical pre-teen annoyed by all her older relatives fussing over her and telling her how it's all about remembering yadda yadda. But when she goes ungraciously to the door to welcome Elijah, the whole world changes and suddenly she is in a Polish shtetl on the eve of a joyous wedding celebration. Everyone thinks she is Chaya, a recently orphaned relative. But when Germans and trucks show up to "resettle" the villagers, Hannah/Chaya is the one who knows what's really happening and what is going to happen. Hannah/Chaya experiences both the joys of the soon-to-be-gone shtetl life and the horrors of transport and the camps, making this an excellent educational read for young adult readers who aren't interested in non-fiction about the Shoah. And I especially liked the way the framing story acknowledges that sometimes Passover and the Seder can seem like a drag to an older child too old for the "childish" parts of the tradition but not old enough to appreciate the deeper meanings. This was a very fast read as an adult and I'd recommend it for older kids with some understanding of the Shoah. Even though it's written as a young adult book, I found myself fully involved in the story and moved by it, and was in tears at various parts. It's well worth reading during this season as a reminder of all we need to remember and how much we have to be grateful for in our freedom.

The Devil's Arithmetic: an excellent Holocaust story

The Devil's Arithmetic is an emotional story about a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl who travels back through time to the year 1942. I read this book because I had read several excellent reviews about it. It turned out to be one of the best books about historical events that I have ever read. The author's decriptive tone gave me a clear image about the different chacters, settings, and events. The theme in this book is that, as hard as it may be at times, you must learn to empathize with others to understand their feelings and points of view. It is never easy to understand what someone has gone through unless you have experienced the same ordeal. Hannah had a hard time understanding what made her grandfather, who had survived the Holocaust, so angry when he saw Nazi footage on television. That was until she herself went through a concentration camp. The story has three main settings. It begins in Hannah's grandfather's apartment in New York. The story then moves to a small Jewish village in Poland, where Hannah lives for a short period of time. The third and most important setting is in a concentration camp in Poland. This is where most of the book takes place. Although the vocabulary in this book is not remotely difficult, the reader has to know a bit of backround about the Holocaust to understand the book. It is also a very emotional story, full of sacrifice and hatred. For these reasons, I would recommend this book to anyone who is in the sixth grade and above.

The Gift of Memory

This touching story is based on a 12 year old girl who is living in present day New Rochelle, NY. Her name is Hannah Stern, and the story starts when she goes to her grandpa's house for a Passover celebration. Hannah hates this holiday since she hates remembering anything, espically in the form of a boring Seder. When she opens the door to let Elijah, the prophet in, she finds herself in a shetl dating in the early 40's. She is told the people she is living with are her aunt and uncle. Everyone calls her Chaya, which means life. They tell her she went to live in Lublin, where she and her parents caught cholera. Only she barely survived. This whole time, she convinces herself that it is a strange dream. When she goes to a wedding, she is taken by the Nazis to a concentration camp by train. She befriends Rivka, a 10 year old who has been there a year. She learns how truely important it is to remember, as her memories of her life in New Rochelle fade. Hannah-or Chaya, leanrs how to survive through it all, by keeping memories strong.I think this was a BRILLIANT book, and I have read it more than once. It may be a little deep for those under 11, but it is good for a reader looking for a challange. Beyond that, it is in depth with the Holocaust. I reccommend anyone studying the subject to read it. Also, I believe this will greatly touch young Jews who seem like Hannah at the beginning of the story. I can't see how the story is unable to touch anyone's heart.

You'll never forget it

This is Schindler's List for children, a chilling account of the Holocaust from the point of view of a young girl. Yolen skimps on few details, and you can tell that her story comes straight from the heart.Hannah, a modern Jewish girl, is irritated by the Passover Seder and the "remembering" of the Holocaust, which some of her relatives lived through. But when she opens the door for Elijah, she is transported through time and space to a village in Poland. Soon the Nazis arrive, and Hannah (called "Chaya" by everyone in this new time) must both try to survive and to keep her friends alive in the deathcamps.I tried very, very hard to summarize this story, but the spiritual and emotional tones are simply impossible to talk about. This is an intense book, the descriptions of it simply can't express the greatness of this plot.A haunting tale of life, death, memory and sorrow. Even though this is a children's book, it may be disturbing for younger readers--you might want to talk to your children about it afterward.
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