Historical Fiction by Alan Gratz
When Hitler’s army entered and occupied his native Kraków, 10-year-old Yanek knew his life might change, but he had no idea of the horror that lay ahead. His remarkable survival story begins with a dramatic, emotional punch and then chronicles such moments as his secretive bar mitzvah in a warehouse basement, the systematic round up of Jews, and his deportation to the Plaszow concentration camp, the first of 10 camps he would suffer but survive. He recalls encounters with such Nazi figures as the sadistic Amon Goeth and describes acts of wanton, viscious brutality
"If I had known what the next six years of my life were going to be like, I would have eaten more. I wouldn't have complained about brushing my teeth, or taking a bath, or going to bed at eight o'clock every night." Yanek Gruener was 10 years old when the German army invaded Poland in 1939 and trapped his family inside the walls of the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. Over the course of World War II, he saw his parents deported by the Nazis and survived 10 different concentration camps.
Ten-year-old Yanek Gruener is living in Krakow, Poland when Hitler invades. When the Germans wall in the Jews, Yanek's family is forced to share a flat with four other families. Yanek's parents are grabbed on the street and he is taken when his work detail is needed at the Plasz¢w Concentration Camp. Yanek survives the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Trzebnia Concentration Camp, Birkena, Auschwitz, the Auschwitz Death March, Sachsenhausen, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Gross-Rosen, the Death March to Dachau, and Dachau. Freed by the Americans at Dachau, Yanek is a 16-year-old survivor who knows who he is. This is a work of fiction based on the true story of Jack Gruener, the real B-3087.
About the Author
"While the story of Jack Gruener is true--and remarkable--this book is a work of fiction. As an author I've taken some liberties with time and events to paint a fuller and more representative picture of the Holocaust as a whole."
Born in Tennessee, taught in Japan, now lives in North Carolina.
Loves baseball - many of his books for middle schoolers center on baseball.
Won numerous awards for his novels
While some liberties have been taken, with the permission of Gruener and his wife, Ruth, also a survivor, the experiences and images come directly from the Grueners' collective memories of the war.
A powerful story, well told.
If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told.
Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones.
The unimaginable horrors Yanek faces are portrayed in spare but unflinching detail. Occasional transcendent moments of beauty, nobility, or kindness sustain Yanek and readers alike.