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Review: A Family Secret (Heuvel)


Author: Eric Heuvel
Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, Historical Fiction
Pages: 62
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this from my school's library
Challenges: YA (#6), Graphic Novel (#9)
Summary: (from the inside flap): While searching his grandmother's attic for likely items to sell at a yard sale, Jeroen finds a scrapbook his grandmother Helena made during World War II. It brings back painful memories for her, and she tells Jeroen for the first time about her experiences as a girl living in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands and about the loss of her Jewish friend, Esther. But after hearing the story, Jeroen makes a surprising discovery.

Review: This is a great book for teaching the basics of World War II and the Holocaust. There are a lot of historical details, but it isn't overwhelming because it is taught through the experiences of the characters rather than as boring facts to memorize. I also liked that readers will come away with knowledge from various sides of the events: perpetrators, victims, collaborators, bystanders. Jeroen discovers that life wasn't simply a case of right and wrong during the war, but what each individual felt was right to do at the time. When I taught World History (10th grade) I always tried to present multiple sides to any historical event because life isn't one-sided.

The graphics made me really comfortable because they remind me of Herge's Tintin books, which I read voraciously as a 12 year old. The drawings are clear, detailed, and add greatly to the story.


justpeachy36 said...


This looks very interesting.

P.S. I left you an award on my blog.


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Oh now I want to read this. I am still Graphic Novel free and havent read one - but I want to!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Thanks for the award JustPeachy!

Shelia, I was "graphic novel" free until very recently and really enjoying reading them though I do prefer graphic novels that are historical or cultural in nature as opposed to comics or manga