Hide and Seek by Robin Scott-Elliot is a thrill a minute wartime adventure about a young girl fighting for the resistance in France.
The story centres around Amelie Dreyfus who is thrown into the sharp end of the German occupation suddenly one day when her family are taken from their flat. As the story goes on Amelie comes to realise the dangers of her situation and ends up learning how to survive unnoticed as a child in Paris. During the story, she comes into contact with the French resistance and joins them in their bid to fight the occupation. She is then embroiled in the murky world of paranoia and impending danger that is the life of a resistance fighter. The story then follows Amelie during her time as a member of the resistance. There are lots of unexpected twists and turns and heart-wrenching moments as we watch this young girl grow up in this most dangerous of worlds.
I enjoyed this book, it really was a thrilling ride. Each chapter is relatively short and generally ends on a cliffhanger making you want to read on. The story is well written and I like how the character of Amelie develops from an innocent and naïve young girl into someone who is brave and determined but clearly affected by her experiences. Although the story is seen through Amelie’s experiences often the sense of emotion and the sense of tension and danger come through the way the other characters react to her. Amelie throws herself into the most dangerous situations without much awareness of her situation but we get a sense of how dangerous it is by the concern and care of characters like Cecile who becomes a surrogate older sister to Amelie for a time.
I have to admit that on first reading part of the story confused me; it was the fact that Amelie was Jewish. This confused me because at the start of the story I expected a story about a Jewish girl trying to survive the war but actually for a large section of the book the fact Amelie is Jewish is irrelevant and not even mentioned. After thinking about it, I reflected that it has been really well written as Amelie was not from a particularly religious family and being Jewish wasn’t a huge part of her identity. It is only later in the story, near the end, when she becomes more aware of the persecution that Jewish families have faced that it starts to become important again. She is older by this point and has experienced more of the horrors of the war and so it seems like a realistic development that she would see more significance in being Jewish.
This book is probably best suited for mature readers in year 6 and older. It would make a good class read aloud and it introduces you to a part of the Second World war that isn’t covered generally in school curriculums. I wouldn’t recommend it as a book for looking at Jewish experiences during the war as it is only a minor part of the story and is only lightly touched upon in the main, however, I would recommend that adults provide some context to the situation so that this part of the story makes more sense. It is certainly a thrilling wartime adventure and could be enjoyed by many.
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