I initially read this book to determine whether it was appropriate for my 11 year-old daughter to read. Although it is considered a YA novel, any book (fiction or non-fiction) with a theme centered around the holocaust, is a novel I want to preview before allowing my child to absorb.
I was immediately drawn to the short sentence structure and quick action. From the beginning, the reader is drawn into an eight year-old orphan boy's innocent view of a world where he must steal, and become virtually invisible, to survive.
It's a quick read; I read it in one day. It is the boy's innocent and honest view of the world around him during one of the most horrific times in history that kept me turning the pages.
The boy's innocence and naivete to the chaos and pure hatred surrounding him is touching, and rather humorous at times.
Although Milkweed is a work of fiction, it made me wonder how close it came to the inner workings of a child's mind during this time period.
While the central theme revolves around the time leading up to the holocaust, it only takes the reader through the time when Jews were relocated out of their homes to the ghetto. It touches briefly on the time of deportation, when those housed in ghettos were put on trains for human shipment to concentration camps. However, it never visits the horrors of an actual concentration camp.
Some of the prevalent messages that stood out for me in Milkweed were those of hope, love and inner happiness at a time when Nazi occupation colored the world gray with irrational hatred and unfair brutality.
I found myself lingering with thoughts of the book long after I read the final page.
After reading Milkweed, I would allow my daughter to read it. I think I would rather read it with her though, so if she had any thoughts or questions we could talk about it along the way.