We Are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad, with art by Martina Heiduczek, A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2022. 9781665904223
Format: Paperback ARC (published 2/2022)
Genre: Historical Fiction
What did you like about the book? This is not an area of history that I have heard of or read about before. It’s 1944. Prussia. Germany is still at war but it has reached a point where even men with disabilities like eleven-year-old Liesl’s father and boys younger than 16 are being enlisted as soldiers for the German army. When the Russian Army begins marching into East Prussia, Germans flee; this includes Liesl’s family made up of her mother, her baby sister, Mia, not yet 2 years old and her seven-year-old brother, Otto. Along with many others they are trying to stay in front of the Russian Army. When the three children are separated from their mother, they are on their own with Liesl instructed to keep them all together. They find themselves living in the woods, in barns, stealing food and doing everything they can to stay alive. At one point Russians take over the house they have been living in, threatening to keep baby Mia, forcing them to once again flee. They are hoping to make it to Lithuania where there is a promise of food. It is difficult to imagine three young children enduring/surviving this way yet there are many children who found themselves orphaned or separated from their parents. This is the story of many German children at the end of the war. The tension is high throughout the story, impossible to not feel as if you are there with the three children who have been forced to live like wolves.
Anything you did not like about the book? No
To whom would you recommend this book? There are many books written about the Holocaust, about being Jewish during Hitler’s persecutions, but this one is unique, dealing solely with German children who might well have been unaware of what was happening. Readers who like historical fiction dealing with war as lived through the eyes of children would very much appreciate this book.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary/Middle school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Middle school fiction, grades 5-8
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Contributor, Youth Services Book Review
Date of Review: December 18, 2021