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It is 1939 and thirteen-year-old Ilse, half-Jewish, has been sent out of Germany by her Aryan mother to a place of supposed safety. Her journey takes her from the labyrinthine bazaars of Morocco to Paris, a city made hectic at the threat of Nazi invasion. At the same time in Germany, Nicolai, a boy miserably destined for the Nazi Youth movement, finds comfort in the friendship of Ilse’s mother, the nursemaid hired to take care of his young sister. Gripping and poignant, The Children’s War is a stunning novel of wartime lives, of parents and children, of adventure and self-discovery.
“Richly satisfying and utterly absorbing. . . . Fascinating and original. . . . Charlesworth tells the story so artfully that she brings an utterly fresh perspective to bear on familiar psychological territory.” —Robert MacNeil, The Washington Post Book World
“Breathlessly suspenseful. . . .[Charlesworth] moves her story through fast, terrifying intricacies of plot. . . . [Her] greatest success is to show how these children grow into morally mature adults, learning about treachery not just by seeing it around them, but by making difficult and sometimes terrible choices themselves. . . . Engrossing.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Rich in local color and character detail. . . . Powerful and poignant. With her cinematic eye for description and her story's propulsive narrative rhythm, Charlesworth thrusts us into the very heart of chaos.” —The Boston Globe
“In her evocative story of adolescents groping, without guide or compass, through the labyrinth of war, Charlesworth tells us hauntingly what happened to these children and how they struggled to survive.” —The Baltimore Sun