Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli
Italian boys including Roberto and Samuele are captured on their home soil by the Germans and forced to work for Nazi Germany by the sweat of their brow under inhumane conditions. Donna Jo Napoli said she "wanted American readers to learn of the little-known story of boys in Italy, Hungary, Romania, and other Axis countries who--because they were considered dispensable--were indentured by the Nazis to work for the war effort under inhumane conditions."
The first half of the novel is about Roberto and his Jewish friend Samuele working for the Nazis. The reader indeed learns the "little-known story of the boys." Napoli's writing is emotional, powerful, and fast-paced. The second half of the novel follows one of the boys on his escape from the Nazis. His ultimate goal is to return to his beloved hometown of Venice, a long journey from his work station in Ukraine. I did not enjoy the second half of the book as much as the first. One reason is that it wasn't as interesting to me as the war stories.
I recommend this book to young adults and adults. I personally think it's important to be reminded of the evil that was the Holocaust. This novel does just that. It unveils the Holocaust enough that we recognize the face of evil, but it keeps parts covered that would give younger readers nightmares.
Plus, the characters retain their faith in God and never doubt his goodness, love, or relationship with them.