Thursday, June 6, 2013

D-Day: WWII in Europe

On this day in 1944, the Allied Forces landed at Normandy Beach and started taking back Europe from the Nazis. To celebrate the 69th anniversary of D-Day, we bring you a list of books about WWII in Europe.


Under a War-Torn Sky by LM Elliot. Henry's an American pilot, shot down over France. His only chance for escape is to rely on the French Resistance to smuggle him out. Follow it with the sequel, A Troubled Peace, which looks at life in France immediately after the war.

B for Buster by Iain Lawrence. The Kakabera Kid lies his way out of his small Canadian town and into the British Airforce. Instead of being the 16 year old son of an abusive drunk, he is now an 18 year old orphan. He lives in fear of his crew discovering the truth. Once they start flying missions, he befriends the pigeoner as the only person he can talk to about his extreme fear of being shot down and dying.

For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Based on the true story of Suzanne David, a teenager in Cherbourg, France, a teenager turned Resistance spy. Suzanne is an aspiring opera singer who isn't that caught up in current events until Cherbourg beach is bombed while she's sitting on it. Her strength in such an ordeal and the fact that her singing takes her throughout northern France leads the local resistance leader to recruit her as a spy. The hardest part is being able to get to her scheduled meetings without her parents finding out.


A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper. Sophie lives in a crumbling castle on a small island, a member of the royal family in a kingdom that only has a handful of citizens. In 1936, the war in Europe is far-away news until the Germans arrive. The first in a trilogy, follow it with The FitzOsbornes in Exile.

Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut. Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time--something that happens after getting abducted by aliens. Despite the crazy premise, this is actually a rather autobiographical dark story that focuses largely on his time as POW in Dresden during the firebombing.

Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley. Betty is an American living in London when WWII starts. Not content to wait around while the bombs fall, she becomes a spy and is sent to France to join the Resistance.


Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. After crash landing in Nazi-control France, a British spy is arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo. She is weak, and tells them what she knows, hoping it will buy her time, her life, or at least a quick execution instead of being shipped to Ravensbrück. But in her story, she tells a heartbreaking story of her best friend Maddie, the pilot she left in the burning plane.

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal by Mal Peet. After her grandfather commits suicide, Tamar is left with his box of parachute silks, with code written on them, plus some other objects from his time in WWII. The story bounces between her and her grandfather in WWII, when he was with the Dutch resistance, him, his best friend, and the girl they were both in love with. Trapped in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, they get information out, and receive information. But the tension and fear soon take its devasting toll. Seriously guys, one of my favorite books of all time.

I Am Fifteen--and I Don't Want To Die by Christine Arnothy. This memoir details Arnothy's teen years in Budapest during WWII. During the bombing, she and her neighbors hide in the basement of their building, just trying to survive. Out of print, this was a favorite of mine and I love that it's a different story of the war than the one we usually get. Also see if you can track down a copy of the sequel It is Not so Easy to Live.

We'll be covering different aspects of the war on different days, and also look at our list for Yom Ha'Shoah. What are you recommended reads for WWII in Europe?

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