Review: Bluebird


by Sharon Cameron

Scholastic Press

Category: Young Adult
Reviewer: Meg Wiviott

Sharon Cameron’s BLUEBIRD begins in August 1946 with Eva arriving in New York City from war-torn Berlin. Chapter Two begins in February 1945, where sixteen-year-old Inge steals her father’s car to go on a joy ride and giggles with her friend Annemarie about kissing her mother’s chauffeur, even though she’s all but engaged to Rolf, a friend of Papa’s. In America, Eva is on a mission—not the one the US government assigned to her—to mete out justice for the innocent. In Germany, Inge’s world falls apart with the Führer’s death and her discovery of the truth of her father’s work in his camp. These seemingly separate stories are soon braided together into one cohesive storyline. 

An idea for a story often begin with the question, “What if?” What if a German girl, an active member in the League of German Girls, though she never seems to measure up to pure Nazi standards, discovers the truth—about her father, his work? What if, every ‘truth’ she thought was true is a lie? What if no one is who she thought they were—including herself? What we end up with is a brilliant story of justice and espionage, a Nazi experimental program that could tip the balance in a new Cold War world and the extents to which both US and Soviet agents will go to obtain it. Secrets, deep and dark, abound.

The fall of Berlin is not often covered in Young Adult fiction. Cameron does not shy away from discussing the horrors of the Holocaust and war in general. The brutality is evident, but never gratuitous. 

BLUEBIRD is chock-full of literary merit, is meticulously researched, and is appropriate for young adult readers. The main character of the story is not Jewish, but she is trying to atone for the sins of her father, a Nazi doctor whose atrocities at the camps should have landed him at the Nuremburg Trials but for his ability to evade capture. The Jews who do appear in the book are portrayed accurately and authentically. Jake Katz, Eva’s love-interest, is Jewish. He is unique in that he volunteers at Powell House, a Quaker-run organization where Eva lives once she arrives in NYC, to assist refugees arriving from Europe. While BLUEBIRD is not an overtly Jewish book, it looks at the Holocaust from a different perspective—that of a teenage German girl, coming to terms with the truth behind the lies of the Third Reich. It is an excellent addition to the Holocaust canon.

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Reviewer Meg Wiviott is the author of PAPER HEARTS, a young adult novel-in-verse based on a true story of friendship and survival in Auschwitz. PAPER HEARTS made the 2016 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults and the Amelia Bloomer lists. It was also a Cybils Poetry Finalist and a 2015 Nerdy Poetry and Novel in Verse Winner. Meg is also the author of the award winning picture book, BENNO AND THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS, which tells the story of Kristallnacht through the eyes of a cat. She holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.