Ordinary citizens risk everything to save a young Jewish girl in wartime Holland.
Five-year-old Beatrix looks on in horror as the soldier forces her mother off the tram. It is 1942 in Amsterdam, and everyone knows what happens to Jews who are taken away by the Nazis. The soldier turns his attention to Beatrix, when suddenly, the ticket-taker, Lars Gorter, blurts out that she is his niece. With his brother Hans, the tram conductor, they manage to rescue the child from the same fate as her mother.
The two elderly brothers realize that they are now in charge of the little girl. They are at a loss -- after all, neither one has ever married, let alone has children. They know that harboring a Jew could cost them their lives, but in desperation, they turn to a neighbor, Mrs. Vos, for help. But even these kindly rescuers cannot shield Beatrix totally from the horrors of war.
Based on real events, this suspenseful novel vividly portrays the fear, uncertainty, and terror of the Nazi occupation in Holland. It is a story that reflects both the worst and best of humankind. A worthy addition to children's books about the Holocaust, "The End of the Line" will leave young readers to ponder how the most dreadful conditions can lead ordinary citizens to perform the most heroic acts. People like Lars, Hans, and Mrs. Vos, who risked their own lives to save Jews in wartime Europe, were later recognized and honored as "Righteous Gentiles.
I don't normally read Holocaust books, maybe one every two years. The stories hurt my heart and spirit. Even though amazing stories of strength and courage come from this terrible era, it is still hard to read. THE END OF THE LINE is different. Being a middle grade book, I think the author and publisher did very well to teach the horrors of war without overwhelming the reader or giving them nightmares.
From the little that is gathered, Beatrix is five-years-old and she and her mother have been running away from the Nazis. Until the fateful day in Holland when they are caught while riding the tram. Jews aren't suppose to ride the tram. The soldiers yell at the mom then turn on the daughter, Beatrix.
Lars and Hans are brothers and have been running the tram for years. One takes the tickets while the other drives. They are pretty good at being able to read their passengers too. Like the nun who probably isn't a nun.
Lars panics when he sees the Nazi turning his attention to Beatrix and tells the soldier she is his niece. Now these two older, single brothers are in charge of a little girl. And a Jew. What can they do?
In steps a couple neighbors to help--an older grandma and a younger German.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved watching the story, and characters, unfold. The brother have kept their heads low and lived their lives. They don't care about the war because it doesn't involve them. Now, they have a little girl to keep fed and clothed and protected. It was a joy to watch them grow and reach outside themselves.
Ms. Vos is another character who turned from crotched old maid, to a loving grandmother-type for Beatrix. Every character introduced had a line of plot.
The whole story I wondered what would happen to these kind people who took are of Beatrix, and would she ever be united with her mother again?
I think this is an excellent book for children to learn more about the Holocaust without introducing too much pain and suffering and death.
Thanks to netgalley for the read.