The Final Journey

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9780141301044: The Final Journey

Alice is eleven years old, and it is wartime. She is on a train with no seats, no lights, no sanitary facilities. Her parents and her grandmother are missing, and Alice doesn't know where she is going. Maybe she will get to play outside again, maybe she will see her parents. But as the train rolls on, Alice begins to realize that just when you think things can't possibly get any worse, they do. "No reader will be immune to the plight of these people, powerless in the face of overwhelming evil."-- Kirkus Reviews

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Language Notes:

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

From Booklist:

Gr. 8^-12. What was it like in the railway cattle cars bound for Auschwitz? This novel, first published in Germany in 1992, tells it from the viewpoint of an 11-year-old Jewish girl. Alice Dubsky has spent two years in hiding in a basement, protected from the knowledge of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Now suddenly, crammed with nearly 50 people in the hot, stinking darkness of the train car, she faces the fact that they are prisoners being taken to a camp. That must be why her parents disappeared months before. She sees her grandfather die and witnesses the miracle of a baby born in the excrement, even as she learns for the first time from a young woman how babies are made. People cling to their possessions. Some share and help one another. Someone else dies. The train stops at sidings; people outside hear the cries and do nothing.

Do we need another book about the Holocaust? Yes, if it is as good as this one. This is not a book for children, but teens and adults will find it compelling reading, an extension of the autobiographical journeys of Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz (1959) and Isabella Leitner's The Big Lie (1992). Crampton's translation is restrained; the dialogue rings true; the details are authentic. There is no exploitation; in fact, there is almost no direct violence. The end is quiet and devastating. They get there. The Auschwitz commander sends some to the right; Alice goes to the left, together with the other children, the old, the disabled, and the newborn baby. They strip for the "showers." Hazel Rochman

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