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Chris Horsefield’s review of The Edelweiss Express

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This is the longest short book I’ve ever read. It is one that has stayed with me from the first page, and I’ve never been able to shake the images brought forward, the misery and suffering, the existence of evil and brutality, the sadness and desolation. We live in a culture that likes to gloss over pain and suffering, mask it with drugs and other things, and always end the story with a happy ending.
How does one deal with survival after such atrocities as that at a concentration camp? How can one have faith in the world? How can one accept that a people so closely identified with a powerful God can ever accept that God again?
To bring the true horror of the holocaust, make it real and write for young adults could not be an easy task. Bringing laughter into the very same novel at a fast pace that attracts young minds is an art not many authors can perform.
Let’s be honest, this is a true young adult novel set for 9-14 year olds, no sex, no cursing, plenty of teenage pranks on the back drop of the plight of a 13-yr old boy. The author tells the story in a simple manner. The boy’s faith never left him, even when one of his rescuers an Edelweiss Pirate said to him that God would not help, just like he did not save his family. Lucas replied. “You are wrong. God did help. He lead me to you,”
The author pauses and leaves us looking at two teenage boys struggling to come to terms with the situation, a bond formed between them that seemed so real.
When we think of concentration camps so often it is the gas chambers that is foremost, and never before have I read an account of the actual gas chambers. A ten-year old boy clinging to his naked parent’s and his last word’s. “I hope the water’s not going to be cold.” The events of what happened over the next three sentences were not an attempt to shock: it will go down as one of the most definitive works on Holocaust literature, yet…… It’s a teen novel, full of pranks by the Edelweiss Pirates attacking the Hitler Youth. A typical good guy /bad guy situation. The novel had me laughing, crying, on the edge of my seat and most of all, more than all that. It made me think how lucky we are today.
The authors works have always been described as tenth grade standard, he’s no Shakespeare but kids don’t read Shakespeare.

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