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The Women Heroes of World War II – An Important Book for Young Readers

Debbie Glade reviews this nonfiction book for YA readers from Chicago Review Press.

After reading a graphic book about the Holocaust in college, which kept me awake for many a night, I always wondered how this sensitive, yet important subject could ever be taught to young readers. Then a few months back I reviewed the beautifully written book, Someone Named Eva, by Joan Wolf, on my publishing blog and understood how the subject can be taught with care.

That book lead me to be come interested in reviewing Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance and Rescue ($19.95 Chicago Review Press, Young Adult) by Kathryn Atwood. Each of the 26 stories in the book feature a female, from teen to adult, who went way above and beyond the call of duty to rescue, save, feed, house, hide or otherwise help victims of the Nazis. A black and white photo of each woman hero is included in the narratives.

What I like about the book is that the author goes into the background of each hero, revealing how they came to be in a situation where they were able to help others. Some of the women actually started out supporting the Nazis until they saw, firsthand, the torture and cruelty of so many people under Hitler’s regime. Most of the women had to do a lot of lying or hiding to help the victims, thereby sacrificing their own safety and well-being.

Kathryn Atwood did a great job portraying the struggles, without terrifying the young readers. And the stories in the book are so important that all adults can benefit from reading them as well. As a reader you can really imagine yourself in the place of the women heroes of the war. For anyone who ever wondered, “What could one person possibly do to change a horrific situation?” this book is a perfect example.

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