Publishers Weekly Review
Stamper's exceptionally moving debut goes beyond recounting the suffering inflicted on Jews during the Holocaust to explore a young woman's conflict between love and artistic ambition. Fourteen-year-old Gerta Richter, a talented singer and daughter of a violist in the Würzburg Orchestra, learned that she is actually Gerta Rausch, a Jew, when she and her father were forcibly removed from Würzburg by the Nazis one night in June 1944. The novel opens with the British liberation of German concentration camps in 1945 and moves smoothly among Gerta's prewar life, her stay in concentration camps and the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons camp, and her postwar flight to Palestine. Focusing on Gerta's transitional time as a displaced person, Stamper delves into her fight to regain her musical gift, her deepening relationship with a fellow survivor, her growing identity as a Jew, and her struggle to make decisions about her future. Generously illustrated with Stamper's haunting spot images and larger scenes, all in deep brown hues that evoke profound emotion, the book is a strong addition to the bookshelf of Holocaust fiction. Ages 12-up. Agent: Lori Kilkelly, Rodeen Literary Management. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Fifteen-year-old Gerta Rausch did not know she was Jewish until the day she was picked up by the Nazis and taken to a concentration camp. She lived in Germany with her musician father and was sheltered from the reality outside her home, spending all of her time training in viola and opera. Gerta's father reveals the truth as they are crammed into a train car. Gerta struggles to accept this news; she knows nothing of Jewish traditions and her only experience with her religion is tied up with hatred, abuse, and slaughter. Being allowed to play in orchestras keeps her alive in both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Although the narrative describes life before liberation, much of it focuses on the postwar experience: life in concentration camps-turned-"displaced persons camps," lingering hostility toward Jews, as well as the grueling journey many Jews made from Europe to Palestine. The illustration style and muted color palette work beautifully with the text, managing to communicate both despair and hope. The narrative is spare but powerful as it depicts the daily horrors of the camps and the struggle to survive, hold on to humanity and, once freed, understand how to live again. -VERDICT This powerful story is an excellent choice for any library.-Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, Oakland © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Before Nazis dragged Gerta Rausch and her father to the Theresienstadt ghetto and, ultimately, to Auschwitz, Gerta was different. Literally. According to her Ahnenpass, a certificate of Aryan lineage, she was Gerta Richter. She had no knowledge of her Jewish heritage; she also had a white-hot passion for all things music. Now, her familiarity with viola and enrollment in the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz has saved her life, but Gerta has yet to salvage her greatest love from the rubble: her singing voice. But one boy may be dead set on helping her find it. Sifting through the war's aftermath, Stamper's debut spotlights a multitude of oft-overlooked topics, from postwar pogroms and the Bergen-Belsen displaced-persons camp where Gerta resides, to the budding Zionist movement. Stamper's ethereal sepia-toned illustrations, teetering between black-and-white and full color, beautifully convey Gerta's dilemma as a girl on the brink of both adolescence and adulthood, friendship and romance, silence and song. A well-researched, elegant, and fittingly melodic exploration of reclaiming one's voice and the many kinds of faith it can spark. Back matter not seen.--Shemroske, Briana Copyright 2017 Booklist