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*The Other Half of Life: A Novel Based on the True Story of the MS St. Louis* by Kim Ablon Whitney- young adult book review  
The Other Half of Life: A Novel Based on the True Story of the MS St. Louis
by Kim Ablon Whitney
Grades 7+ 256 pages Knopf May 2009 Hardcover    

Fifteen-year-old Thomas Werkmann, whose Jewish father is in a Nazi concentration camp, bravely says goodbye to his mother for good and steps aboard the MS St. Francis. Bound for Cuba, Thomas and over nine hundred other refugees are trying to escape Hitler and his Nazi regime.

On board, Thomas is immediately befriended by fourteen-year-old Priska Affeldt, who is lucky enough to be travelling with her family. But Priskaís cheerful optimism does little to buoy Thomasís spirit. In fact, as the boy becomes more and more suspicious of the Nazi crew, Priskaís fun-loving attitude irritates the lad.

Even so, a budding romance develops, and the two conspire to obtain as much information as they can by spying and eavesdropping on the crew, eventually thwarting a covert mission of German intelligence. But then, with Cuba on the horizon, the ship is halted and the passengers are refused entry. Will they be forced to return to Hitlerís hate-filled Germany?

The Other Half of Life is based on the true story of the MS St. Louis. This little-known historic event influenced legislation of the 1948 Displaced Persons Act after the U.S. and Canada refused safe harbor to those passengers.

Author Kim Ablon Whitney does a fantastic job weaving fact and fiction into a believable and powerful story of the Holocaust and the anti-Semitic actions of the Third Reich before the onslaught of WWII. Also included is a chronology of events, an authorís note, and a list of sources for those seeking more information.
 
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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