Susi, the granddaughter from house nr.4 by Birgitta Behr (English review)

susiI think this book is remarkable, it would be perfect for educational purposes. It is the type of book that should be available in primary and high schools. It is a great way of teaching children and teens about one of the darkest eras of 20th century history.

I really liked the way Behr combined the artistic element of the book with the narrative and prose. She delivers the changes in the law, the atmosphere and behaviour towards Jews during the Nazi era, in a way that is concise and brutally honest. At the same time she manages to deliver history through the eyes of a child and with a lot of compassion.

The illustrations are simplistic and yet at the same time they are crude and to the point. They are enhanced by the written slogans, graffiti and the story itself.

Susi experiences how her life is taken apart and destroyed bit by bit by the changes in her country. Suddenly Jews are persona non grata. Her family has to rely on both friends and strangers to help them to survive the atrocities of the war. There are plenty of unsung brave people, who helped instead of looking away during that difficult time. They tend to be forgotten when history is recalled.

Behr brings you up close and personal to the events of that time period without having to use any graphic images or violence. The new laws and ‘rules’ are shown in form of crude slogans, which makes it all the more realistic. The words show the injustice and inhumanity without having to show the true measure of the violent situation.

The focus of the book is on this one family, as opposed to everyone who suffered and the entirety of the situation. In a way it makes the book even more poignant and it gives the reader the feeling of empathy and of being involved. The reader relates to the little girl, because it is easier to connect to her fate and story.

It is a book of important historical relevance and one I will gladly recommend.

Buy Susi, die Enkelin von Haus Nr.4 bei Amazon de, Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Susi, die Enkelin von Haus Nr 4 (German review) here.