YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Challenge Check-in #4

11 Jan

Last summer, I listened to  Neal Bascomb’s  Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and  a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi. I was a little leery when I first saw that a YA version had been published under the title The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi.

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I was prepared to be disappointed because I have serious doubts about reformatted books as a matter of principle. I always, skeptically, imagine it is a marketing ploy and a money grab. I can be a bit of a cynic at times.

I was pleasantly surprised that the book, definitely a scaled back version of the original, is still excellent. It is eminently readable and maintains the energy and tension of the original. Having read Bascomb’s 2009 book, I had some background knowledge that helped me as I read this book. For readers coming to The Nazi Hunters first, the details that were “left out” of this version do not detract. really, it is a matter of the amount of detail in each book. I think adults would enjoy this work of narrative nonfiction, especially if reading nonfiction is not part of their regular practice.

In reading  The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi,  I have read all of the nonfiction books. All are excellent and I think I will keep my decision about which should win the award until I’ve finished the Morris nominees, too. In my last post before the announcement f the winners, I  declare my thoughts about which books deserve to win both awards.

I also finished Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn this week.

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Strange is a good word to have in the title. It took me a few chapters to get a real sense of this book and I questioned its presence on the list of Morris nominees. Real clarity doesn’t even come until the very end, at which point you want to say “WOW!”. Having said that, I won;t go into a lot of plot details because it would ruin the impact of the ending. Let me just say that the mind is a strange place. While reading this I had flashbacks to my time in Denmark where I convinced myself that I was  a jinx. I am quite serious. I loved the first host daily I lived with and didn’t want to move to my second home. Just before I did so, the second family’s daughter fainted at work, suffered a brain hemorrhage and died. Just after I moved in, my host dad was shot in a hunting accident and nearly died. Somehow my brain convinced me that it was all my fault.

Andrew Winston Winters, the main character of Charm & Strange, is struggling with his sanity. Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. Slowly, we come to see is life, understand his struggle and see what the mind does to understand incomprehensible events.

if you start this book and get frustrated or confused, I highly encourage you to persevere.

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