Carnegie Longlist 2016 · Carnegie Nominations 2016

The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis

This makes very difficult but compelling reading, it tore my heart out in several chapters and at one point I could not read for crying. This book certainly does not pull any punches.  It is based in Riga, Latvia during the Second World War and is told by a 15 year old girl called Hanna who is half Jewish.  It tells a harrowing account of what happened to her family and the Jewish community when the Nazis arrived in 1941.

At the beginning of this book Hanna has dreams of being a ballet dancer and has a fairly normal life apart from the fact that her father was taken by the Russians before the Germans invaded.  Although this does upset her she does believe that she will see her father again one day. When the Nazis arrive Hanna has to grow up very quickly when her mother and Grandmother can no longer protect her from the reality of what is going on. She learns at a cost that even a small miss calculation of judgment can mean the difference between life and death and that is only the beginning of the horrors that are to come.

Having visited Krakow and Auschwitz only last year this book brings home the reality of what happened in the ghettos and concentration camps during the War. It would make a great book club book as it raises so many moral questions. Would you be brave enough to make a difference or would you be so fearful for your family and your own life that you turn a blind eye?

I would recommend this book to teenagers 14+

Reviewed by Elizabeth


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