I AM DEFIANCE: A NOVEL OF WWII, by Jenni L. Walsh, Scholastic Press, Feb. 2, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
Jenni L. Walsh transports readers to World War II Germany in I Am Defiance.
Brigitte tries not to ask questions. They don’t seem very welcome at her League of German Girls meetings, where she and her friends learn about their duties to Hitler’s war effort.
But she can’t help asking questions when a mysterious pamphlet appears in her mailbox: a pamphlet full of words like resistance and freedom, from a group that calls itself the White Rose. Brigitte’s father and older sister, Angelika, seem to agree with the forbidden papers — an opinion that is dangerous even to whisper at home. And when Angelika becomes involved with secret resistance efforts, Brigitte’s questions only bloom.
Could Angelika be connected to the White Rose? Is Brigitte’s family in danger of being arrested? And if she chooses a side, will Brigitte be able to take a stand? —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Press
It’s easy to look back on moments in history and pinpoint where something began, but it’s harder to see when you’re in the middle of one of those moments. In I Am Defiance, Jenni L. Walsh takes you to a place where the answers aren’t as clear cut as we’d like to believe.
Brigitte doesn’t remember life before Hitler. Her father and sister do but are stuck in a world of hide-and-seek: Do what you’re told whether you agree with it or not, or suffer the consequences. If the choice is standing up to a dictator — and putting your entire family at risk — or quietly go along with things and keeping them safe, what do you choose?
Brigitte is at the age where questioning things is normal. When she reads the pamphlet, it’s hard not to be curious. It’s her curiosity, bravery and love of family that make her a strong protagonist. Her search for what is “right” will ring true with readers.
I Am Defiance is a thoughtful read that will lead to further discussion. It’s fast moving and compelling throughout.
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