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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Review of Cybils Nonfiction Award Winner: IMPOSSIBLE ESCAPE

Impossible Escape: The True Story of Survival and Heroism in Nazi Europe
 by Steve Sheinkin. (Roaring Book Pressing, New York. Aug. 29, 2023)

These are the stories of Rudi Vrba and Gerta Sidonová, two teens caught in the anti-Jewish web cast by the Nazis in WWII. Rudi is in Auschwitz concentration camp and he knows he must escape or he will die in the camp. He is also sure that the world must not know about the horrors and killings at the camps or they would do something to free the prisoners. He must escape and tell the Jewish people to sound the alarm. 

Gerta, a schoolmate of Rudi's, escapes Slovenia to Hungary as the war on Jews heats up. Even though it comes at great risk, Gerta is not satisfied to just hide and stay out of sight. She has to do what she can to fight against the Nazis. She does so by helping others get false papers so they can escape or remain free.

Both teenagers bravely act, not thinking so much of their own lives but of the lives they can save. After Rudi and another teenager, Alfred Wetzler, manage a daring escape from Auschwitz in 1944, aided by regular citizens. Rudi and Alfred become the world's biggest whistleblowers. Their actions probably saved 100,000 Jewish lives. 

As soon as I noticed Steve Sheinkin had written another nonfiction book for teens I knew I had to read it. He is a reliably great writer for this population and I've found every one of his books to be readable and informative. It is hard to believe that yet another true story of heroism emerges from the ashes of WWII, but here we are. Rudi and Greta's stories are so worth reading.

What I liked about the book:
  • I enjoy reading narrative nonfiction and Sheinkin gives us enough back story on each of the teens to cause the readers to cheer for their success.
  • There are plenty of source notes and an index to make this book a good tool for student research.
My rating: 5 stars.

I initially reviewed this nonfiction book in November of 2023. 
Today, Feb. 14th, it was announced as the 2023 YA Nonfiction Cybils Award Winner
Since I was part of the team which selected this title as the winner, I decided to repost the review.


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