ONE EYE LAUGHING, THE OTHER WEEPING: THE DIARY OF JULIE WEISS by Barry Denenberg
jacket flap blurb (none on my copy; copied from goodreads)
This special Dear America edition is actually two stories in a single volume. In part one of a two-part story, Julie Weiss’s world is suddenly torn apart by a war that will forever change the face of humanity. Her life as a privileged Jewish girl quickly becomes one of humiliation and terror. In part two, Julie has left Nazi Austria for New York, where she begins a new life with her extended family who she has never met.
It’s more middle-school-aged than YA, but I still enjoyed it. The writing was straight-forward, without many metaphors/similes/unique descriptions, but it was interesting. The main character, Julie Weiss, is around twelve during the story, which takes place over the course of the year 1938. It’s historical fiction, based on a real person.
What the story did really, really well was sound authentic. Julie’s voice is strong and realistic. It sounds like a young girl without sounding too young. The characters were all engaging and seemed fully-fledged; even the background characters felt solid and real. The characterization was really the strongest part of the book. Julie, her family, and the people she interacts with (my favorites were Suzie, Mr. Allen, Mr. Heller, and Mr. Esposito) carry the story along.
The second half of the book, I would say, is stronger than the first half, just because there is more going on. The book was easier to get into after about a quarter of the way in. Prior to that, the conflict is very subtle, and I had the impulse to skim some parts.
The book is written as a collection of diary entries, labeled by date. But there are also these breaks, which I think are chapter breaks, but I’m not totally sure. With chapters, the following chapter usually starts on the next page with some sort of opening taking up the first quarter of the page or so. But these breaks weren’t followed by a page break. Most of them came at the bottom of the page, and then a new entry started on the following page. I ignored the breaks, because I have no idea what purpose they served. If they were supposed to break up groups of diary entires, they should have been set up like chapters, rather than…well…whatever they are now. And if they have some other meaning, it clearly wasn’t successful.
rating out of five stars
Not bad. Better for slightly younger readers, but still interesting. Sort of a younger age group’s version of MY FAMILY FOR THE WAR by Anne C. Voorhoeve.
want to read it for yourself?
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