Thirteen-year-old Gabriella Schramm’s favorite pastime is reading. With Adolf Hitler slowly but unstoppably rising to power, Gaby turns to her books for comfort while the world around her changes dramatically: The streets become filled with soldiers, her sister’s boyfriend raises his arm in a heil Hitler salute, and the Schramm’s family friend Albert Einstein flees the country. When Gaby’s beloved books come under attack, she fears she may have to leave behind the fiction and the life she has always cherished.

One thought on “Ashes

  1. Yoo Kyung Sung says:

    Common Hitler youth stories tend to carry a male student’s perspectives and dilemma within SSR or Hitler youth group from the German side of story. Dilemma from intercultural relationships with Jews and other German people often grows a major tension in stories like this. Unlike many other books about this historical area, Ashes seems to offer range of different aspects of human side or perhaps what is like to be Gabriella. It is nice to see a girl German character.

    In Ashes, the most of protagonist’s childhood is happily portrayed and even privileged–scientist father, music studied mom, father’s famous scientist friend who travels to the U.S., teen culture like Hollywood celebrities and fashion. What I like about Ashes is that young readers wouldn’t feel “historical” with Gabriella’s story but making connections to another teen. The fear of Hitler regime affects such ways that young people are the groups who are most vulnerably influenced by the Nazi. Connecting to Gabriella as a normal child can help young readers to feel what is like to go through fever of “Heil Hitler” more realistically. Ashes is a story of young teen girls’ voice experiencing ideological paradigm changes. Ideological paradigm shift turns friendship to fear and tension that even creates such conflicts between friends and families.

    Unfamiliarity to the German history can be challenging for some audiences feeling that German language within texts is distracting. I found German language in Ashes creates such vivid and realistic portrayal of such situations in Gabriella’s world. Although I wonder how authentically German is expressed, exposing to other foreign language through literature like Ashes can enrich reader’s global literature experiences.

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