Reviews for Behind the Bedroom Wall


Horn Book Guide Reviews 1997
In World War II Germany, thirteen-year-old Korinna is an ardent member of a Hitler youth group. When she discovers that her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her five-year-old daughter in their house, her world is shattered. Somewhat superficial but easy to read and immediate in its assumption of Korinna's perspective, the novel gives fearful insight into the ways young minds can be molded to hate. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1997 #1
In World War II Germany, Korinna is thirteen years old and an ardent member of the Jungmädel, a Hitler youth group. Her belief that "Hitler is the most wonderful man" is reinforced by her school books, the youth group leaders, her friends, and the society around her. To be a "Jew-lover" is the worst accusation that can be made about a non-Jew. Witnessing a brutal arrest being made by a Gestapo officer who is the brother of her best friend Rita, Korinna suppresses any feelings of sympathy for the victim. When she discovers that her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her five-year-old daughter Rachel in a small space behind the wardrobe in her bedroom, her world is shattered. Her first reaction is that she must report her parents as traitors even though she has been told that traitors are shot. Living with her secret, Korinna finds that pity for little Rachel begins to turn into affection. As the tension increases between her sense of duty to the Führer and love for her parents, she begins to make mistakes, even allowing the overly zealous Rita to trap her into confiding that she sometimes feels sorry for Jews. The very next day, Korinna is ostracized at school, and one of her old friends whispers that her house will be raided that night. The Jewish family is safely sent on to the next hiding place; and when the Gestapo officers tear through the house and find the space behind the bedroom wall, Korinna has already transformed it into a little shrine to Hitler. With the brief reprieve that this ruse brings them, Korinna and her parents are able to escape. Somewhat superficial but easy to read and immediate in its assumption of Korinna's perspective, the novel gives fearful insight into the ways young minds can be molded to hate. It also offers a glimmer of hope that, in the darkest of times, there are some brave people who will risk their own lives to help others. h.b.z. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1996 June
1-57131-606-X ~ A loyal member of Hitler's Jungm del has some choices to make when she discovers that her parents are hiding a Jewish family. Having uncritically accepted the pervading anti-Semitism and faithfully parroted its slogans, Korinna, 11, is horrified when her wardrobe swings back to reveal Sophie Krugmann and Rachel, her 5-year-old daughter, in a secret room. Does Korinna believe in the party line strongly enough to turn in her own mother and father? In the agony of indecision, Korinna skips school, loses sleep, and arouses the suspicions of her best friend, Rita, whose brother is a Gestapo agent; meanwhile, reluctantly succumbing to Rachel's charms and thinking about how Jews and anyone who associates with them are being brutalized, her attitudes begin to change. Williams (The Long Silk Strand, 1995, etc.) has her young characters obediently repeating patriotic Nazi slogans and promises, but presents counterarguments more subtly, by simply showing the Gestapo's cruelty, Sophie's bitterness and exhaustion, Rachel's fear, and the general climate of repression. In the end, Rita betrays Korinna, but then warns her of the impending raid; the Krugmanns are spirited away just in time, and Korinna's family must also go into hiding. Confusingly, Williams's suggestion in the afterword that freedom may be more important than love isn't a theme she develops in the story, but she pays stirring tribute to the courage and ingenuity some outwardly ordinary people showed in those dark days. With scattered, stiff b&w illustrations. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1996 June #3
Melodrama substitutes for conflict in this heavy-handed novel set in Nazi Germany. At 13, Korinna Rehme is just like the other members of her girls' youth group: besotted with the Fuhrer ("Hitler is the most wonderful man, Mother. Don't you think so?") and rabidly anti-Semitic. When she discovers that two Jews, a mother and young daughter, are hiding in her very own house, she is horrified at her parents' calumny. As Korinna weighs the possibility of turning her parents in, her best friend, Rita, begins to grow suspicious and starts laying a deadly trap for the Rehmes and their clandestine guests. Neither subtlety nor insight plays a part in these proceedings: Williams doesn't suggest the attractions of the Hitler youth groups or allow for the range of attitudes within these groups, described so persuasively in such memoirs as Ilse Koehn's Mischling, Second Degree or Hans Peter Richter's I Was There. Instead, the dilemmas faced by these characters come across to the reader as crystal-clear choices between good and evil. This type of simplification makes for bad history?and a flat read. Ages 9-13. (July) Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1996 September
Gr 5-8 Korinna, 13, loves her country and is active in the Jungmadel, Hitler's youth group for girls. When she learns that her parents are hiding Jews, she is shocked and angry. A series of events, including her reluctant, but growing attachment to the little girl hidden behind the wardrobe in her room, leads her to conclude that the price of being loyal to the Fatherland is too high. It is Korinna's quick thinking that saves the family during a night raid. The atmosphere and mood of the times are palpable, with Korinna and her family forced to flee Germany. If the characters are "types," such as the brave father, the nasty so-called "best" friend, and the vicious Gestapo agent, they are clearly drawn and appropriately employed in a fast-moving, believable plot with an inevitable ending. Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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