I’ve come to really enjoy reading novels in verse in recent years. They’re remarkably easy to read, despite their poetic form, and at least one–Inside Out and Back Again–has gained Newbery notoriety. They are especially appealing to certain groups of middle school and teen readers and often tackle deeply emotional or poignant issues without feeling overly dramatic or “cheesy.”
Odette’s Secrets sounded like it was right up my ally: novel in verse, WWII time period, little explored subject within its time frame. And I did enjoy it. Little Jewish Odette lives in Paris as WWII looms large, and Hitler begins his “cleansing” of Europe. Her father goes to fight for France, and he is soon captured and taken as a prisoner of war. As Paris heats up, her mother hatches a daring plan with other resistance fighters: to send their children to willing strangers in the countryside to keep them safe. The time comes to put this plan into action, and Odette, along with three other girls she’s never met before, travel by train to a family they’ve never met before. They are instructed in all the good Catholic ways, go to a Catholic school, attend a Catholic church, and in general passed off as “good Christians.”
A series of events follows this, some heart warming, some heart wrenching. Yet, Odette’s Secrets is based on the memories of the real Odette, so we know she survives. And she does.
The story in this short novel in verse is a rich one and worth reading, especially for those who enjoy WWII stories. My one complaint is the format. Although I really enjoy novels in verse, for some reason the format just didn’t work for me in this one. I kept realizing I was reading a novel in verse; a really great one will suck you in and the form doesn’t keep intruding on your consciousness in such a way as to jerk you back out of the story.
Look for this in bookstores or, hopefully soon, in libraries.
Don’t forget that Megan and I are now contributing to Redeemed Reader! My first post there will come later this week.