Author: Jerry Spinelli
First Edition: 2003
Genre: Historical fiction, YA fiction
The Ghetto of Warsaw, Poland, in the years of WWII during the Holocaust, a clever little boy with no identity, a group of little thieves with no home and no family, a girl with a boisterous personality and shiny shoes, a Jewish man with a kind smile on his face and endless faith in his heart, flies, lice, mean jackboots, rats for food, and Heaven on the other side of the wall: this is Milkweed.
Milkweed is not an easy read. Its words are like a violent thunderstorm on a summer day. They take your breath away. They make you feel scared, angry, insecure, vulnerable, and helpless. They make you wish for a rainbow in the sky. But there is no rainbow in the Ghetto of Warsaw. There is only hunger, cruelty, death, and despair. And yet, there is life and hope in the Ghetto of Warsaw. There are friendship and faith. There are angels and moments of peace.
This is not a pleasant novel to read. It creates a hole in your heart–a hole so deep, not even a million hugs can fill up. But it is a novel that screams, ” read me! Don’t forget your past! Don’t sugar coat your past!”
And so, I am grateful for this book. I am grateful for its painful truth. BECAUSE OF this book and other books I read about the Holocaust, I am able to appreciate the food on my table, the roof on my head, the books on my desks, the hugs of my children, the peaceful neighborhood, and the opportunities that life is giving me.
Don’t run away from your past. Dive into it and appreciate the life you were given. Learn from the past and be kind to others. Be thankful for what you have and don’t waste what life is giving you.
Ink n Paper.
If you would like to know more about the Ghetto of Warsaw…