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Reviews of The Blood Years by Elana Arnold

The Blood Years

by Elana K. Arnold

The Blood Years by Elana K. Arnold X
The Blood Years by Elana K. Arnold
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2023, 400 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 22, 2024, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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About this Book

Book Summary

From Michael L. Printz honoree & National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold comes the harrowing story of a young girl's struggle to survive the Holocaust in Romania.

Frederieke Teitler and her older sister, Astra, live in a house, in a city, in a world divided. Their father ran out on them when Rieke was only six, leaving their mother a wreck and their grandfather as their only stable family. He's done his best to provide for them and shield them from antisemitism, but now, seven years later, being a Jew has become increasingly dangerous, even in their beloved home of Czernowitz, long considered a safe haven for Jewish people. And when Astra falls in love and starts pulling away from her, Rieke wonders if there's anything in her life she can count on—and, if so, if she has the power to hold on to it.

Then—war breaks out in Europe. First the Russians, then the Germans, invade Czernowitz. Almost overnight, Rieke and Astra's world changes, and every day becomes a struggle: to keep their grandfather's business, to keep their home, to keep their lives. Rieke has long known that she exists in a world defined by those who have power and those who do not, and as those powers close in around her, she must decide whether holding on to her life might mean letting go of everything that has ever mattered to her—and if that's a choice she will even have the chance to make.

Based on the true experiences of her grandmother's childhood in Holocaust-era Romania, award-winning author Elana K. Arnold weaves an unforgettable tale of love and loss in the darkest days of the twentieth century—and one young woman's will to survive them.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. "[Y]ou could overwork the dough too—make it stiff, without tenderness" (pg. 92). Cam is talking about pizza dough, but he also says that it is a life lesson. Describe the life lesson in your own words. How does this lesson apply to Berlin? Cam? Jessie?
  2. "For being Nehiyaw, for being a woman, once more because she was Black too. Three reasons for the RCMP to look the other way" (pg. 44). Explain what Cameron is saying here in your own words. How do anti-Native bigotry, misogyny, and anti-Blackness intersect with neglect on the part of the police?
  3. Discuss the positive and negative ways that possibility is invoked by all the main characters. Berlin and her surrealists, Cam and his hope, and Jessie and her rebellion&#...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Love is a pervasive theme throughout the story—the love of God, the love of family, the love for one's city and country—and although Rieke's future remains unknown, it's clear that Frieda's story ended with a family who loved her and a granddaughter determined to share her experiences with the world. The Blood Wars is a story of love, faith, and perseverance that honors both the Jews in WWII-era Romania and a young woman who found the strength to hope in the face of darkness...continued

Full Review Members Only (566 words)

(Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Media Reviews

Horn Book (starred review)
Arnold's compelling and well-researched narrative is deeply personal, respectful, and redemptive; through story, she bears witness. Her depiction of Rieke's experiences allows readers to truly feel how the horrors of war give the character many reasons to hate as well as to discover her enormous capacity to love.

Booklist (starred review)
Extraordinary. This beautifully written novel juxtaposes passages of transcendent insight with terrible loss. An excellent choice for readers of Monica Hesse and Ruta Sepetys, and a first purchase for all teen collections.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
This book is many things: an examination of love and duty, a revelatory account of a Holocaust experience many won't know, and a wrenching coming-of-age story. A moving glimpse into a past that is an all-too-possible vision of our future.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Arnold confronts tough subjects via unflinching depictions of war and compassionate renderings of intense familial drama. Searing.

School Library Journal (starred review)
Arnold's gripping novel of sisterhood and survival amid both ­Soviet and Nazi occupation illuminates a little-explored part of the Holocaust in ­Romania. A must-read.

Author Blurb Dashka Slater, Stonewall Book Award-winning author of The 57 Bus
A captivating, harrowing, uplifting story of a Romanian-Jewish teenager's struggle not just to survive but also to live. By the time you reach the final page, each person in Rieke's family will feel like a member of your own. Emotionally stirring and ethically complex, this is Elana K. Arnold's finest work to date.

Author Blurb E. Lockhart, New York Times-bestselling author of We Were Liars
Once you meet Reike, you won't ever forget her. Elana K. Arnold entwines history irresistibly with fiction to tell a story of great magnitude and emotional impact, centered on the bravery of a Jewish teenager in Nazi-occupied Romania and on universally human questions of romantic love, moral compromise and family loyalty.

Author Blurb Nina LaCour, Michael L. Printz Award-winning author of We Are Okay
Ferocious and delicate, brilliant and emotional, The Blood Years is a finely wrought portrait of love and betrayal and what it costs to survive the unimaginable.

Author Blurb Ruta Sepetys, New York Times-bestselling author of I Must Betray You
The Blood Years gives us tragically underrepresented history viewed through a lens of love. Devastating and beautiful.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Traian Popovici: The Man Who Saved Jews in Czernowitz

Black and white photo of Traian PopoviciThe Blood Years by Elana K. Arnold tells the story of Frederieke "Rieke" Teitler, a young Jewish girl trying to survive the atrocities of Nazi-controlled Romania. Throughout the war, many of Rieke's friends are deported to Transnistria, a small country to the east where Jews were sent to live in camps and ghettos. Rieke and her family, however, are exempt, as her grandfather and brother-in-law are deemed to be essential city workers and thus granted authorizations to stay. While their authorizations are signed by the governor, many others are signed by the mayor, Traian Popovici, whose heroic role in the book reflects a true story.

Traian Popovici was born in 1892 in a small village in Austria. His father and grandfather were Orthodox ...

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Read-Alikes

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