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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Whirlwind by Carol Matas

The Whirlwind by Carol Matas
Published by Orca Book Publishers
Reviewed by Sojourner Ahebee

Happy New Year!!! I spent the holiday season reading a few books about how horrible human beings can be. For example, I read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. Though I was quite sad to learn what human beings can be capable of, I feel even more strongly that it's important to know world history and what evil has been done in the world. It is with this knowledge that we, who believe in the dignity of all human beings, can find ways to prevent evil from spreading and to even change evil into goodness.

I also read a really amazing book called The Whirlwind by Carol Matas. It is about a teenager named Ben. He and his family escape the violence of Nazi Germany in 1941, leaving behind his dear friend Elizabeth and his beloved grandparents Oma and Opa. Ben relocates to the United States with his parents and his sister. They settle in Seattle, Washington where Ben's uncle lives.

Once Ben starts school, he makes a new friend named John who is a Japanese-American boy. But then the attack on Pearl Harbor happens, which takes a major toll on Ben’s life. He thought he had escaped hate and war but here it was happening all over again. Ben begins to feel unsafe and he thinks his family should flee to Canada. Soon his friend John and his family have to go to a concentration camp for Japanese-Americans and leave their home in Ben’s hands.

Ben runs away from home twice and learns some life-changing lessons. This book changed how I saw the world. For example, at the very same time, in two different places, racism and hatred of one group was going on. I suggest this book to all teen readers who don’t mind a sad story but a satisfying ending. I absolutely LOVED this book. It empowered me to want to push tolerance and love even more.

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