Suffers from a slow beginning, but it gathers steam super fast It s the story of 13 year old Gaby, a pretty, book loving non Jew in 1930s Germany Her father is an astrophysicist at the University of Berlin, a colleague and friend of Albert Einstein her mom s best pal Baba is a fabulous Jewish society columnist Gaby s life seems sweet luscious descriptions of parties, society events and fabulous outfits will delight fashion loving girls but the Nazis are gaining power and anti Fascist intellectuals like her family are disparagingly called White Jews Einstein s work is derided as Jewish physics and Gaby s beloved, chic literature teacher isn t who she seems Adults will see some of the plot twists coming, but kids won t Strangely, as another Goodreads reviewer notes, there s a scene that s a carbon copy of one in the movie Cabaret I m gonna choose to think that Lasky forgot she d seen the movie and the scene worked its way into her subconscious Each chapter begins with a well chosen, pointed quote from an author Gaby loves Jack London, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Heinrich Heine authors whose books are burned by the Nazis at the book s climax American Jewish kids need to know that not all Germans were Nazis, and this very readable book is a good way to teach them. I picked this book from my shelf randomly because I needed something to read, having left my actual book at home by mistake I couldn t put the book down I ve never read anything by Kathryn Lasky before b c she gravitates toward fantasy which is not my favorite genre, but I liked this book It is, perhaps, the only book I ve ever read which talks about normal German citizens living through the events leading up to and chronicling Hitler s rise to power Stepping into the lives of a normal family and by normal I mean they are leery and appalled by Hitler, his claims, and his policies as they read, listen, and watch first hand the events leading to Hitler s eventual takeover provided a perspective I have never read before, and I found it fascinating and a little frightening since I could see many parallels to events in our own country today If there is a downside, I thought the ending was a little rushed and left many loose ends about important characters, and I felt the main character, through whose eyes and ears the story is revealed, was portrayed somewhat unrealistically On the other hand, I suppose if the targeted audience is younger, she would be perceived as believable She just displayed a knowledge of political and current events that I found a little unrealistic for someone her age Ultimately the story told was a good one, and I d recommend it to anyone who is interested in this time period. Set in Berlin during 1932 3 this is the story of young girl s experiences as the Nazi party gains power in Germany Gaby is the physical embodiment of the perfect Aryan with her long blond braids, but she doesn t agree with the changes that are happening in her country and her city Her family is strongly anti Nazi, even pulling her out of school when she has an unpleasant encounter with a teacher who is staunchly pro Nazi.Overall this is well written, but I found some of the supporting characters kind of flat, which made it difficult to feel anything later in the story Also, I liked that the family had a connection to Einstein and I would have loved to see physics woven in, or a girl interested in physics, but instead Gaby is made out to be an avid reader and excellent at math even though she spends a good portion of the book wondering if her sister is having sex with her boyfriend, thinking about wearing dresses, and sneaking into movies it just didn t feel true Note, the content of the book seems middle school than J. This was another great historical fiction read It was refreshing because it took on a different point of view, it was not the same old same old Gaby and her family are living in Germany in the early and mid 1930 s before WWII This was very interesting because you could see Hitler s rise to power and how just an everyday citizen like Gaby s family s housekeeper could be swept off their feet by Hitler It was also nice to see Gaby s family stick up for their Jewish friends and never backed down They were against Hitler and the Nazis from beginning to end Overall, this is now one of my favorite books Recommended to anyone who likes books set around WWII or who like historical fiction Oh, and Albert Einstein as a character was pretty awesome too Can t wait for the Newberry s to be announced next January, this book, I think, has a very very very good shot Thirteen Year Old Gabriella Schramm S Favorite Pastime Is Reading With Adolf Hitler Slowly But Unstoppably Rising To Power, Gaby Turns To Her Books For Comfort While The World Around Her Changes Dramatically The Streets Become Filled With Soldiers, Gaby S Sister S Boyfriend Raises His Arm In A Heil Hitler Salute, And The Schramms Family Friend Albert Einstein Flees The Country When Gaby S Beloved Books Come Under Attack, She Fears She May Have To Leave Behind The Fiction And The Life She Has Always Cherished Life is pretty comfortable for Gabriella Schramm, 13, called Gaby by friends and family Living in 1932 Berlin, her upper middle class family is better off than most Germans at the time Her father is a renowned scientist, teaching astronomy at the University, and is friends with Albert Einstein Her mother, an former pianist who gives lessons at home now, hob nobs with Baba, a well respected Jewish society columnist for the only newspaper in Berlin that isn t pro Nazi Gaby s older sister, Ulla, is scheduled to begin studying at a conservatory in Vienna next year And Gaby, who loves to read anything she can get her hands on, including Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Mark Twain and my personal favorites Rainer Maria Remarque and Erich K stner, is looking forward to reading Heinrich Heine s poetry in Gymnasium after summer vacation.But things are beginning to change, both within Gaby s family and all over Germany First, Ulla insists on remaining in Berlin for the summer instead of going to the family s lakeside vacation home, claiming she has a bookkeeping job at the cabaret where her boyfriend Karl, an engineering student, works But when Karl and Ulla come to visit, Gaby begins to suspect that Karl is a Nazi supporter She had already suspected the same thing of the family housekeeper, Hertha and the man who maintains their Berlin apartment building In fact, Gaby has noticed a significant increase in the number of Brown Shirts SA and Black Shirts SS all over Berlin despite the ban on them.Back in school after vacation, Gaby and her best friend Rosa are overjoyed to begin studying literature with the very beautiful, kind, well dressed Frau Hofstadt, who is picked up everyday by a mysterious limousine But, at home, the talk is and about the political situation, which in 1932 is all over the place, though everyone is relieved when the Nazis loose seats in the Reichstag Parliament , hoping that that will be an end to Hitler and his Nazi party But that s not what happens at all and through all kinds of twists and turns, Hitler is named Chancellor by President Hindenburg at the end of January 1933 And with amazing speed, Gaby watches her previously safe, happy world fall completely to pieces The period 1919 1933 was such a complicated time in German history and politics The Nazis referred to it as the Kampfzeit, the time of struggle to gain acceptance and power for their radical policies Lasky covers only 1932 1933 in Ashes and kudos to her for successfully tackling it in a novel for young readers There is lots of talk about events that actually happened, and Lasky provides enough information to understand it without overwhelming or boring the reader.Ashes is a well written novel, and although it is a little slow in places, given the time and place of the action, it is indeed a worthwhile read I particularly loved that each chapter begins with a quote from a book Gaby loves and which foreshadows what happens in that chapter And since Gaby witnesses the Nazi book burning on May 10, 1933, it is all the poignant a reminder of some of what was lost in that tragic event.The novel is told from Gaby s point of view, which gives us her very subjective, but very astute observation, not only of what is happening around her, but how she thinks and feels about it all, A fine example of that is when she witnesses her former math teacher, Herr Berg, being removed from her school by the Nazis for being Jewish, and disappears The reader feels her shock, disgust, sadness and despair all at the same time.Some of the scenes may feel a little cliche and I am not the first person to realize that Karl resembles Lisle s Hitler Youth boyfriend from The Sound of Music, and that there is a scene similar to one in Cabaret, in which everyone in an outdoor Biergarten joins a Hitler Youth in singing a Nazi song But, these scenes also make a necessary point and people have traditionally joined in singing in Biergartens in Germany, it wasn t just a Nazi thing to show support.Ashes is a nice contribution to the body of Holocaust and World War II literature and on its own, a very interesting book about a very complex time made accessible by good research and skillful writing This book is recommended for readers age 11 This book was purchased for my personal libraryThis review was originally posted at The Children s War This historical novel, set in Berlin, Germany, presents the unique viewpoint of a teenage girl, not Jewish and anti Nazi, who witnesses Hitler s rise to power in the crucial years 1932 to 1933 Gabrielle and her family have Jewish friends Einstein who are affected by the growing anti Semitism fostered by the Nazis Her father is an astronomy professor at the university, and her mother is a piano teacher, both intellectual positions in a time when intellectuals i.e., free thinkers were suspect To complicate matters, sister Ulla s boyfriend and the maid Hertha both act suspiciously Nazi I enjoyed this novel most of all for this depiction of what life was like for ordinary people as Germany moved through political turmoil I had never read about this before and was fascinated Lasky presents pro Nazi Germans as either seeing an opportunity to better themselves through schmoozing and sucking up or as people genuinely and perhaps blindly believing that Hitler would make things better Because Gabriella is raised by parents who value intellectual freedom and who are not racially prejudiced, she also has those values, and is repulsed by the injustices she sees around her What particularly impressed me about Gabrielle was the books she read Today s 13 to 14 year olds would be reading YA novels or maybe Stephen King or Danielle Steele This girl and her friends were reading Hemingway, Jack London, Erich Maria Remarque, Mark Twain, and other classic authors who, today, are generally only read by kids of that age for school assignments Perhaps it s because there was no genre of YA literature back then, nothing transitional for teens, or perhaps, their parents being intellectuals, they were encouraged to read adult books at an earlier age Gabrielle also has very mature ideas and insights for a girl of her age, perhaps as a result of her parents and the kind of literature she reads Lasky provides an introduction describing the events leading up to the beginning of the story and historical notes at the end giving further information on the historical characters mentioned in the story, as well as the real people who inspired some of the main characters It lacked only a timeline or chronology of events, which I would have found useful My local library system classed this novel as juvenile, but I think it s YA, and that s how I m classing it Because of its insights into the political situation and how the German people thought as Hitler came to power, this would be a fantastic read for a class studying World War II I can t recommend this book highly enough.Note to anyone reading the hardcover edition In the beginning and toward the end there were several disconcerting typos. Thirteen year old Gabriella Schramm lives a comfortable and happy life with her middle class family in Berlin, Germany in 1932 Her father is a scientist who studies and teaches physics at the university Because of his work, Albert Einstein is a friend of the family Gaby enjoys reading books, going on after school outings to the zoo and the movies with her best friend, Rosa, and spending summers at her family s vacation home by the lake Her biggest worry up until now has been the teacher who confiscates the books he catches Gaby reading during class But all that is about to change, as Adolf Hitler grows in popularity and power.First, Hitler s private army, in their brown uniforms, begins to fill the streets of Berlin Then the persecution of Jews and communists begins Intellectuals and scientists like Gaby s father are a target, too, for teaching un German ideas and for not supporting the Nazis Gaby is increasingly worried that her older sister Ulla s boyfriend may be a Nazi And even the books Gaby enjoys escaping into in these troubled times are becoming a target As her entire world changes and seems to crumble around her, Gaby must come to terms with all that she has lost.Ashes is a fascinating and often troubling look at life in Germany during Hitler s rise to power Gaby was a very likeable heroine I especially enjoyed that she loved reading and that books were her escape into another world, which reminded me of myself at her age If you enjoy historical fiction and are interested in this time period then I highly recommend you read this book, and I also think it would make good supplemental reading for preteens and young teens learning about this era of history in school. 3.5 I have this listed as Holocaust for my own personal knowledge but it maybe shouldn t be If I had a list for this time period titled something else I d use that but being that I don t and I don t think it s worth it for me to make a new one I ll use this I flew through this and can say for sure that the only aspect I did not like was the use of actual people in the book Maybe that s because I don t usually read much historical fiction but it s strange to me to add the real Albert Einstein and Josephine Baker into a fictional book I d have rather seen a fictional character based on the two of them This drastically took away from the book for me Besides this, and this isn t something easy to get past if you ask me, the book is really good I loved the German words and phrases and it reminded me of when I was younger reading the words and phrases I heard so often I liked that this was a different look into this time As important as survivor testimonies and fictional accounts of the Holocaust from the survivor standpoint are, we hear less about what life was like for Germans, especially a family so against Hitler The feelings of Gaby and her family really showed I really love how easy it is to understand the timeline of how Hitler and the Holocaust came about Much of that can be very confusing and unless it s explained properly one can really get turned around This could be tedious to go through for anyone who knows a decent amount about WW1 and the beginning of Hitler s rise but I think it s explained well here and it wasn t bad to rehash IMO. As I was browsing Barnes and Noble Kathryn Lasky s latest book cover caught my eye Without even reading the synopsis, I knew Ashes would be about some aspect of the Holocaust and World War II I love when I stumble upon great book finds Ashes is a very well written novel that takes place during 1932 and 1933 at the very beginning of Hitler s rise to power The main character, Gaby, is a teenager whose father is an astronomy professor Her father works with Albert Einstein and the her family actually lives next door to the renowned scientist Her mother s best friend is an entertainment reporter for a Berlin newspaper Although Gaby s family is not Jewish, it would seem all of their close relations are It is these close relationships that fuel the family s hatred for the changing government policies.For me, the greatest strength of this novel is the background knowledge the story provides Lasky explains how Germany s defeat in the first World War impacted its economy and political standings She also describes the transition of power that from Hindenburg to Hitler Through the character of the family s housekeeper, Lasky shows how the ordinary German citizen could become easily enthralled with Hitler and his promises Ashes will be an excellent addition to my Holocaust library and an excellent way to begin a unit of study of this monumental time in history.