Review: The Assignment

The Assignment by Liza Wiemer

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Kathy Bloomfield

Based on a true story, The Assignment is about two high school students who stand up to their teacher, their peers, and the entire community to stop an assignment that was given to them in their History of World Governments class. Their teacher is someone they greatly respect, but the assignment – To debate “A Final Solution to the Jewish Question” as was done at the Wansee Conference in Berlin in 1942.

The book is well-written and profoundly disturbing. It contains the expected backlash to the students from hate-mongers in their school and their community, surprising revelations about the students involved and unexpected alliances that are formed along the way. Overall, an emotional, page-turning read.

This is a strong contender for a Sydney Taylor prize. Given the subject matter, which is ripped from today’s headlines, and the nature of the assignment based on an actual Holocaust event, the story portrays an authentic Jewish experience. This is something that is being experienced in towns across the world, most of which do not make the morning news. It provides a clear picture of the difficulties teens have in standing up to their teachers and peers, while at the same time completely supporting those who have the courage to do so.

The back of the book contains "A Note From the Author" providing information about where the story came from, along with a list of Resources, and a set of discussion questions.

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Reviewer Kathy Bloomfield is the President of the Association of Jewish Libraries. She is working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic to upgrade her long dormant website, forwordsbook.com. She lives in Seal Beach, CA.

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