The Borrowed House

Book cover: 'The Borrowed House'
Hilda van Stockum
Bethlehem Books
Number of pages: 
221 pages
Grade / Age level: 

The Borrowed House presents us with a look at Germany and Holland during World War II, through the eyes of Janna, a 13 year old German girl who is raised on Hitler's propaganda and is a member of "Hitler's Youth". Janna, raised in the Black Forest of Germany and separated from her parents (who are famous actors and travel around a bit), has been indoctrinated with a hatred of Jews and other aspects of Hitler's "ideals". From the beginning we learn somewhat chilling (although subtly handled) facts about the treatment of the sick and elderly in Hitler's Germany. Early in the story, Janna is sent to Holland to be reunited with her parents who are living in a large house requisitioned by the German army from a Dutch family. Here, through her mother, her new tutor, the Dutch cook and other new friends, Janna begins to see the errors and lies that she was deceived with.

The story is quite a touching family story as well as excellent historical fiction from World War II. The indoctrination and hatred pushed by Hitler and companies is very real and teenagers will benefit from being aware of how people can be misled by a strong leader. The book is clearly well-researched. Some of the details, rather than being the author's intepretation of that time period of history, appear to be based on actual testimonials collected by the author from family and friends who lived in Holland during World War II. Although the story is quite easy to read, the general subject matter and some of the details of the story make it appropriate for more mature students (probably just for high school).

Additional notes: 

This book was donated for review by Bethlehem Books.

Review Date: 
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