devils arithmeticREVIEW OF: The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen


Plus one, minus one is the arithmetic of the devil; with the addition of one person, another must be subtracted. That was the law during Adolf Hitler’s reign as dictator. Hannah, a young Jewish teenager who was bored with her religion and its customs, yearned for something new and present-day, not another depriving story about her past. She was sick and tired of being a Jew and being forced to remember her heritage. To Hannah, it was all nonsense. Suddenly, in the midst of her distaste for her past, Hannah is transported to the very past that she hates. At first, she knows nothing of what is going on, but Hannah soon finds out that she has been placed in the toughest time period in history for the Jews: the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler was deliberately blaming Jews for crimes that they never committed, and as a result of that, Jews throughout Europe were being deported and taken to concentration camps. Hannah just so happens to be one of those unfortunate Jews. In the horrific concentration camp, Hannah learns sacrificial love and that no matter how evil people may be, you can always find a way to over come it. Will Hannah be able to survive the most inhumane treatments one can ever experience or will she become one of the six-million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen is one of the most eye-opening books about the Holocaust that I have ever read. Yolen really got it through to me that the Holocaust was one of the most horrific events in history. Also, I thought that the change of the characters in the novel was perfect. You can clearly see the development of each character. For instance, in the beginning, Hannah was a selfish teenager who cared for no one other than herself and her little brother, Aaron. However, by the end of the story Hannah is willing to give up her life for someone she just met. The entire novel was very factual and showed the true colors of the Holocaust.

I strongly recommend this book to others. I feel that girls and boys of ages 10 and up would enjoy this novel. I would say that the topic of the Holocaust would be too heavy for young readers. Also, this book clearly explained the terror of the Holocaust to me at a whole new level, and I feel that the description and detail in this book would also be too much. I hope that everyone who reads The Devil’s Arithmetic enjoys it as much as I did.