Out in sept

To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen's Account of a War Criminal Trial - Kathy Kacer, Jordana Lebowitz

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley


                When the trial of Oskar Groening of aiding and abetting the killing of Jews in Auschwitz. started, I actually discussed it with a student.  We had both seen the series on Auschwitz done by BBC and Lawrence Rees.  In it, Groening is interviewed.  My student wonder two things – why it took so long for Groening to be arrested, especially after the interview and whether her interest in the Holocaust was wrong.

                She would like this book.

                In many ways, Jordana Lebowitz reminds me of that student with an interest in something that happened long before her birth.  True, Lebowitz is Jewish and my student was not.  But the burning need to know is something that they have in common.  Though guts and determination, Lebowitz is able to make it to the trial and witness it.  This book is the story of that determination and the trial itself.

                Sadly, the book is far from perfect.

                Now, don’t get me wrong.  There is much that is good in this book.  In many ways, this is a book that most teens and young adults should read because it makes connections between then and now.  Lebowitz’s story not only shows the importance of history and remembrance, but how the younger generation can get involved. 

                Yet, there is also a sense of wanting something more from the book.  In part, this is due to the chosen style.  Referring to Lebowitz in third person, doesn’t work.  It actually distances the reader in a way that is a bit disconcerting, and the use of passive voice doesn’t help in terms of this.  There are also some weird juxtapositions – like the overlooking of Lebowitz’s grandmother’s reaction to her granddaughter’s proposed trip.  Perhaps this reaction does have something to do with the Holocaust as well?  The inclusion of Groening’s testimony , while understandable, is also somewhat strange as it is taken from sources, something that is only made clear at the end of each entry.

                The thing is Lebowitz’s blog on trial, done for the Simon Wiesenthal center, doesn’t suffer from this.  Undoubtedly, there are copyright resections and such, but if Lebowitz had had more of a voice, I wonder if this book would have been a smoother read.

                That said, it isn’t a bad read.  It is one worth reading, especially for teens and young adults.