Sunday, March 12, 2017

History Lessons in Disguise: 2 Historicals in Which Families are Separated

Educational?  GASP!

My friends and I joke about that all the time.  The word "educational" is poison on our lips, even for homeschoolers like me.  But what about book nerds like me?  What about the most educational fiction genre out there - historical??  You know, history lessons in disguise?!

Personally, it depends on how the book is written.  The more subtly educational, the better.  The more action, the better.  The more humor, the better.  The deeper the characters, the better.  In other words, as long as it has all the qualities of an excellently-written novel, I really enjoy historical fiction.  

Here are two examples of commendable "history lessons in disguise."

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Thanks to the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta's family is divided in half.  On the west side: freedom.  On the east side: Soviet control.  Along with her mother, her brother Fritz, and everyone else on the east side, Gerta is kept under close surveillance by Soviet soldiers.  Her apartment is even bugged!  And meanwhile, her father and other brother Dominic are unable to return from their quest for work in the west.

But a glimmer of hope penetrates Gerta's gray world when she sees her father on a viewing platform, conveying some sort of message via a familiar dance.  Soon, understanding dawns - he wants her to dig a tunnel under the Berlin Wall.  To freedom!

Unfortunately, something like this is easier said than done.  Gerta is about the face the biggest challenge of her life, because if she's caught, the consequences will be dire.

Raiders from the Sea by Lois Walfrid Johnson

Again a family is separated, though the setting and cause of separation are much different.  Instead of a wall rising to divide a nation, Vikings storm through a peaceful Ireland village, taking wealth and prisoners from the people residing there.  Among the kidnapped: fiery young Bree and her brother, Devin.  After realizing that she unknowingly saved the leader of the raid the morning of the raid, the situation only becomes more painful for Bree.  Will she be able to escape and return home?  And more importantly, will she be able to trust God through it all? (yes, folks... it's Christian!)

A Night Divided is a stand-alone, while Raiders from the Sea is the beginning of a 5-book series (all of which deservedly claim envied spots on my bookshelf, by the way). Both of these novels star determined, energetic heroines who love their families and are willing to do whatever it takes to reunite with them. 

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