The Teen Reader

Your source for reviews and ratings on every type of YA fiction.


Posted by Rachel on July 1, 2009

Author: Jerry Spinelli

historical fiction

Reading Leve
l: Easy

Rating: PG for war themes

Summary: “He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. . . He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels.”

Rachel’s Review: Danielle has been trying to get me to read this book for ages because she is a huge fan of Spinelli, but I was always skeptical because his books looked way too young for me. Recently, I was bored while at her house, so I just picked it up and started reading. After that, I couldn’t really put it down once until I had to leave her house, and then I read it whenever I had the chance and finished it in less than a day.

Milkweed is a story of the Holocaust brilliantly and captivatingly told through the voice of one young boy. Spinelli masterfully catches the spirit and mind of youth and translates their language onto the page. He knows the level of their understanding, so his characters never read as too unrealistically stupid or intelligent for their age category. He writes as though he remembers what it was like to be a child and to believe in everything.

Throughout the book, the little boy assumes the personalities that others have thrust upon him: thief, Jew, Gypsy, etc. He becomes, in a way, what others expect him to be in his attempt to find his true identity. And all his life he is running because he doesn’t know any other way. His experiences in the ghetto and the holocaust are symbolized throughout the book as a stone angel. It’s beautiful, really. Spinelli compares the boy to the stone angel because he has done nothing wrong and yet he still has to suffer, and he becomes changed and hardened in a way by the war and he becomes like stone.

In conclusion, this book is just a really good read. It’s rather short, clocking in at just over 200 pages, but carries a weighty punch. So, yeah. It’s good 😀


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