Hansel and Gretel With A Twist

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“Mapping the Bones,” by Jane Yolen, is a historical novel set in 1942 in Poland, and follows Jewish twins, Chaim and Gittel while they struggle in a suffering ghetto called Lodz.

Apparently based on the age-old tale of Hansel and Gretel, the story follows Chaim specifically, through the horrific truths of the War.

Joined by Bruno and Sophie who lost their parents one after the other to the Nazis, they escape the ghetto to freedom.

But after being separated from their own parents, surviving in the forest with Partisans as thier guides only to be shipped off to a Nazi labor camp, things are looking grim.

Chaim, who struggles with a stutter that hinders him from speaking, talks to the reader through his thoughts and small poems.

Gittle only talks through flashbacks as an adult.

Though this book is recommended for 12+ I felt uncomfortable reading this. It talks about the shocking ways children were treated in camps.

In one instance Chaim and Gittle are forced to be present during a gruesome death at the hands of a vicious doctor. Even though it’s hard to read, however, it’s not something we can ignore.

This book does not hold back and sugarcoat the war but shows the horrors through poetry, memories, and loss.

I think this book should be labeled as young adult to adult, though some kids might be able to read this. I feel like it’s a bit grown-up with hard topics for anyone to read.

Jane Yolen the author has written many WWII book including the award-winning “Devil’s Arithmetic” and “Briar Rose.” She wrote this book with the same thought in mind: To share the cruel treatment of the Jews in 1940s.

Though I trudged through this novel with an achy heart I still thought it was a very eyeopening book and would recommend this to someone interested in the Holocaust.

The story kept me interested in the survival of the characters and made me go through a roller coaster of emotions.

Overall I felt that this book was good, though hard to get through.