The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988), by Jane Yolen

I don’t think I have read a more powerful narrative of the Holocaust aimed at young adults.  Yolen has captured the chasm between Jewish reality today and that of Nazi Germany spectacularly.  The Devil’s Arithmetic is the tale of a Jewish girl who doesn’t understand the importance of remembrance, and resists participating in the Passover Seder, preferring to hang out with her goy friends.  During a seder celebration, she is transported back to Nazi Germany, and (unbeknownst) meets her grandmother in a concentration camp.  In the end, she must choose death to save the girl who would become her grandmother.  The historicity, the pathos, the personal experience, are marvellously balanced; while we can never truly feel what the victims did, Yolen gives us a glimpse into how someone from our time might have reacted, thrust backwards in time to a terror she understood while those around her did not.

One comment on “The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988), by Jane Yolen

  1. […] The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988), by Jane Yolen ( […]

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