the devils arithmatic


Reviewed by Kendall

The Devil’s Arithmetic written by Jane Yolen is a book that isn’t for everyone. The Devil’s Arithmetic is a historical fiction that follows a girl named Hannah Stern, or her Jewish name, Chaya. Hannah is a boisterous twelve year old, who stands for what she believes. Hannah lives in New Rochelle, New York with her little brother Aaron and her parents. This book starts out with Hannah going to her grandfather’s house, also in New Rochelle, for Seder. In the tradition of Seder, you always open the door for Elijah, and that’s exactly what Hannah did, but something different happened this time when opening the door to greet Elijah. Hannah seemed to be somewhere unfamiliar to her. Hannah is now in Poland during World War II.  Hannah, now Chaya, has to retrace the awful relocation memories of her family’s past.

The Devil’s Arithmetic has a simple writing structure. Hannah is the center of attention in this book, and she is the narrator. There is a good amount of dialogue throughout this book. I am a girl that likes to read books with chapter names, because there is always a reason the author chose the chapter name. This book doesn’t have any chapter names though, just numbers. The chapters are short, the longest chapter I read in this book was thirteen pages. This book takes you through multiple twists and turns, it always left me wanting to read another chapter. In a World War II book, you always think you know what is going to happen in the end. In The Devil’s Arithmetic, I could never predict whether she was going to make it out alive or not, I didn’t even know until the last few pages! The facts in The Devil’s Arithmetic seemed like a research paper. Jane Yolen focused very hard on getting the facts correct. The author gave a great amount of information of the actual period in the book. Jane Yolen really pin points the events that occurred during World War II and how surreal the event was.

This book is for people who enjoy a great deal of factual history. It felt in some parts as if I was reading a history. This book would be appropriate for ages twelve and up. I enjoy historical fiction books, this was the perfect book for me, but this book is truly not for everyone. People who like happy fairytales and romance would not like this book, as this book posts brutal images in your head. There isn’t a book quite like this that I have read, the closest similarity would have to be Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. This book is a perfect book for someone who has a niche for history.


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