Fiction | History | Holocaust | Racism | Anti-Semitism | School | Friendship | Tolerance
When a swastika is found painted on the wall of Lincoln Rowley’s middle school, the students are treated to three weeks of tolerance education. But when the swastikas keep appearing, the dark history of the town of Chokecherry is dredged up from a past that some hoped would remain forgotten. Who is painting the swastikas? And more importantly, why? As local law enforcement make zero headway with the investigation, the students come together to create a gesture of protest, remembrance, and connection—a paper chain composed of six million links to commemorate the Jewish people who were killed during the Holocaust. But six million is a very large number, and the question remains—is it even possible to make that many paper links?
Gordon Korman has taken the past and made it personal. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different middle-schooler: Lincoln the popular school jock, Dana the only Jewish girl at the school, Caroline the seventh-grade president, Michael the art club president and only Dominican at the school, as well as a few others. As such, readers have a chance to witness and empathize with different perspectives along the way. Korman creates conflict and adds a very modern twist by employing an in-your-face YouTuber named ReelTok to dig up dirt on what is going on in the town of Chokecherry.
Young readers will be swept along on a tide of middle-school gossip and intrigue as they connect with the past and observe its very real bearing on the present. They will be left with the understanding that the pursuit of tolerance is a perpetual one—a journey we take into the future.
Ildiko Sumegi is a reviewer from Ottawa who blogs about inspirational children’s books at beyondtheglassmountains.com.