“Thank God she didn’t live to see us thrown out of our homes and out of our country. And right now that is all I can thank God for. Not much, is it?”
– Daniel’s Story
Carol Matas has published this exciting book, Daniel’s Story, “in hope that [children] will live in a world of peace and love and to the memory of the children who found neither.” Matas, who never experienced the Holocaust, did extensive research on the event because she felt it was important and hoped to achieve her goal by showing people how terrible racism and religious intolerance is.
Daniel’s Story centers around hatred, racism, and religious intolerance. Through the book, the author shows how these can destroy people’s lives and affect the whole world. This book proves that the Nazi beliefs that they deserve to rule the world and that Jewish people are the reason for problems in the world caused horrors, such as death camps.
Daniel is a 14-year-old Jewish boy who lives in Frankfurt during the Nazi reign. His family is moved to the poor ghetto in Lodz, Poland because the Germans were trying to separate the Jewish people from everyone else so that they could concentrate their enemies in one small area and eventually kill them. As the ghetto is being shut down, Daniel, his family and other Jews are deported to Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland, the largest death camp, where there are daily gases for prisoners who do not appear fit enough to work. Daniel’s mother is among those who are murdered at the concentration camp. Daniel’s family and other prisoners eventually end up in another concentration camp in Germany called Buchenwald. Everyday Daniel and other Jews are forced to work for the Nazis, which makes them feel guilty.
Daniel grows to despise the Nazis so much that he ultimately joins a successful conspiracy to free himself and other Jewish prisoners from Buchenwald. In this secret conspiracy, there are many dangers, but Daniel never has any second thoughts. Daniel eventually ends up back in Lodz at the end of the book, which is where most of his trouble began. Close to the end of the book, Daniel shoots a Pole in Lodz, which shows that Daniel still has enemies, even though the Nazis are no longer in power. He returns as a man who has experienced some of the worst conditions ever. Though Daniel is free, he is still bitter towards the Nazis. Because Hitler turned many people against the Jews and this legacy remained, Daniel realizes that he can never live the life he once led.
This book is a narration of Daniel’s fictional memories of World War Two. As Daniel looks through his photo album, he has a series of memories that are well described and take the reader into the harsh world that he once lived through. At the beginning of the book Daniel is 14 and by the end, he is 18 years old. During his four years in Nazi Germany, Daniel changes from someone who has a very stable life and is well liked to someone who helps conspire and fight the Nazi government.
I think this book is a well-written book that tells an intriguing story, with much action and conspiracy. Matas tells Daniel’s story lightly hitting on some parts, like his traveling by train to various destinations, but going into depth on other parts, like the places where he lives and the conditions he experiences. There are a few maps in this book, which help to give a sense of location, though there are no illustrations in Daniel’s Story. The writing is good and convincing in terms of providing insight into how Jews might have viewed life in Nazi Germany.
If one wishes to learn more about the life of a Jewish boy who experienced Nazi Germany, ghettos, and death camps, Daniel’s Story is a very informative book. I recommend this book for people between the ages of 11 and 14 years old. I liked the story because the author really brought the characters to life, and the reader gets connected to them. I wanted them to succeed. This book is particularly powerful because Daniel’s life is not like what American children experience. Daniel’s Story forced me to think about what I would do if I were in Daniel’s place during the story. Matas’ vivid description of the story made the horrible scenes come to life and made me feel grateful that I was not in Daniel’s position. I thought it was amazing that people could survive in the way they did, especially kids. Matas has proved that people will do unimaginable things to survive. This book helps to demonstrate the human will to survive, even in miserable circumstances.