post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: The Fortress
Author: Jonathan Hillinger
Major Themes: Bucharest, Romania, Historical Fiction, World War II History
Synopsis: When a boy discovers street children living in caves under Bucharest’s concert hall, little does he know that his discovery will ultimately mean life to most of them and his own family as well.
Some books that I open on my Kindle are a shot in the dark. I often get books that are free on Amazon and just send them to my Kindle to wait patiently. Eventually I’ll open them and see what they are like; some I finish reading, and some I just delete. The Fortress, by Jonathan Hillinger, is one that stands out—this was definitely worth reading and recommending to others!
As World War II began, Daniel, the son of a well-to-do family in Bucharest, found a gang of street children living in caves under the concert hall. He befriended them—and then he and his family took refuge with them when life became too dangerous in the city for his Jewish family. After awhile, however, the hideout was discovered, and the family and all the surviving children fled to a house outside the city.
The war dragged on, and life became ever harder and more dangerous. What could this group of assorted refugees do? The Jews among them, of course, were in the most danger—should they try to go to Palestine? How could they get there? Was there any possibility of reaching their goal safely? What would the other children do?
The Fortress is based on a true story. It is told by several different voices, each of whom is introduced in a chapter at the beginning. The story is told in 1st person, past tense, which makes it quite real and personal—but also slightly confusing at times when I didn’t catch at the beginning of the chapter who was speaking. There are also two different timeframes happening at the same time, which I found slightly confusing. Everything comes together in the end, though. One thing I really liked about this book was seeing people helping hurting children. I found the book a fascinating glimpse at World War II in a country that is rarely mentioned.
WARNING: A couple of times, someone is killed, and there are a couple of kisses. I failed to make notes of where these are in the book, though, because I was enjoying the story so much but not thinking about writing a review!
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy this book:
Keywords: Bucharest, Romania, Historical Fiction, World War II History, Jewish Holocaust, Europe