Reviews - The Choice

Here's what people have been saying about "The Choice":

The Choice is a gripping coming of age story that takes place in Budapest and Poland during a dark period in history from 1944-47. It tells the story of a youth named Hendrik who is Jewish but living with his family as a Christian in Budapest to avoid the growing persecution against his own people.

Hendrik is just 13 years old and filled with typical teen age angst – questioning authority, feeling conflicting allegiances and yearning for adventure.  Early in the story, he makes an impulsive choice that has horrific consequences for himself and his loved ones. He reveals that his name is in fact Jakob and that he is Jewish.

His reckless behaviour lands him in the Auschwitz death camp where he needs to grow up fast.  As readers, we see things and meet people through Jakob’s eyes and experience his journey right along with him.  For all his flaws, he is just a youth himself living in a world filled with hate and power. The people he meets and both the horrors and the kindnesses that he experiences help him draw from his past and grow as a person.

Author Kathy Clark perfectly paints a picture of the landscape and politics of eastern Europe at its ugliest and most hate filled time in history. She educates her reader about the geography, the war, and the toxic spread of Nazi Germany  and anti Semitism into the surrounding regions.  The black and white photos included in the body of the novel do more than illustrate the story, they punctuate the fact that it is based on real events and real places.

The Choice is the most recent title in an award-winning Holocaust Remembrance for Young Readers Series published by the Toronto based publishing company Second Story Press.  This important series of books proves that you can talk to young people about serious issues. It resonates with children from all cultures and all walks of life.

The Choice is well written and tells a fast paced and intriguing story based on the real life experiences of the author’s father,  a Holocaust survivor. It is Kathy Clark’s second book in the Holocaust Remembrance Series for Young Readers. The first, entitled Guardian Angel House is based on the true story of her aunt and mother  –  two sisters who were sheltered from the Nazis by a group of Catholic nuns during World War II.

The Choice is recommended reading for young readers and it is good reading for adults too. Clark  does not sugar coat the heinous brutality and horrors of the concentration camp, but she also tells a poignant story of friendship, personal growth and survival. She opens the door for all types of important conversations about history, consequence of actions, seeking revenge, the significance of religion, culture and values, thinking for yourself and taking responsibility for your own choices.

Deborah Shatz
Edmonton Jewish News

On many fronts the book is a prize not only for its target juvenile audience but for adults as well. It is a spiritual journey, a coming of age story in the very best sense of that sometimes overworked trope. If I were still teaching history I would make a point of asking my students (16, 17) to read the book in the unit on Nazi Germany. While it is important to have some grasp of the historical, social, economic and political forces at work in the creation of the horror of Nazism it is hugely beneficial to have a novel which illustrates the impact of these forces and events on particular individuals especially ones that are not "stick figures " but who live and breathe their humanity, their virtues and their faults.

Retired High School History Teacher

The Choice is an excellent historical novel - for readers who are teenagers or older.  Read More...

Ruth (Olson) Latta
University of Manitoba

This riveting Holocaust survival story, part of the Holocaust Remembrance series, is based on the true account of a Hungarian family that attempted to hide from the Nazis by becoming members of the Catholic Church. Thirteen-year-old Jakob attends a Catholic school in Budapest and is best friends with Ivan, whose father is a leader of the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party. Jakob is uneasy about his assumed identity and misses his relatives who have been forced into the Budapest Jewish ghetto. He decides to risk a trip to visit them but is caught in a sweep by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. He fears that Ivan will now give up the identity of his family, dooming them to transport to a concentration camp. As he endures the horrors of Auschwitz, his certainty of Ivan’s betrayal grows and he vows revenge. But then he meets a fellow prisoner who tutors him in his faith and sets a powerful example by refusing to be broken by the inhumanity of the camp.

Although there are many published Holocaust memoirs, each story is powerfully unique and sheds yet another ray of light on one of the darkest moments in history. Remembrance becomes increasingly critical as that moment recedes into the past. The book’s prose is simple yet lyrical, and historical photographs add immediacy to the story. Teens will relate to Jakob’s search for identity and will be moved by a friendship that withstood great pressure to conform to evil. The book is perfect for middle school students beginning to learn about the Holocaust and for older students who are interested in learning more.

Jan Chapman.
VOYA (Voice Of Youth Advocates)