7 May 2013

ARC Review: Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust by Leanne Liebermann

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Format: Advance Reading Copy, 227 pages
On Sale Date: April 2013


"Lauren Yanofsky doesn't want to be Jewish anymore. Her father is a noted Holocaust historian, and her mother doesn't understand why Lauren hates the idea of Jewish youth camps and family vacations to Holocaust memorials. But when Lauren sees some of her friends - including Jesse, a cute boy she likes - playing Nazi war games, she is faced with a terrible choice: betray her friends or betray her heritage.

Told with engaging humor, Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust isn't simply about making tough moral choices. It's about a girl caught up in the turmoil of bad-hair days, family friction, changing friendships, love - and, yes, the Holocaust."


When it comes to Young Adult fiction, I am often quite skeptic. Due to some reason, justified or not, I always have a fear that I am going to be reading a story that I have read multiple times before, that I am going to waste my time on "just another melodramatic teenage story". Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust is no such thing. What a truly great piece of YA literature.

The issues Lieberman deals with in her third book go far beyond that of teenage crushes and bad hair days, although the latter are not neglected. Of course, Lauren, the protagonist, is worried about her crush only seeing her when her hair looks great, but she is concerned with much more than that: what does it mean to be Jewish, or religious at all, and how to deal with a terrible holocaust, the Holocaust, that happened more than 60 years ago.

As I am German, this is an issue that I grew up around and that is still discussed widely in German schools an media. Naturally I am much more acquainted with the question of how to deal with the horror, Germany, my home country, inflicted on the Jews during World War. Lauren on the other hand gave me insight into the Jewish perspective, and in a great way, too, with the necessary seriousness, but without being depressing.

Lauren, and in fact all of Lieberman's other characters are believable. They are teenagers, yes, but they are allowed to be real teenagers, and not their flat, dumbed-down versions that I too often find in YA literature. These are authentic teenagers, and the book often reminded me of what it was like to be a high school student in Canada.

Lieberman manages to deal with this serious issue, without turning her characters into adults in teenage bodies and without turning the book into something slow or depressing. Read this book, buy it for your teenage children/siblings/friends, it's worth it. 4 out of 5 ships from me!

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