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A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik

Imagereviewed by Priyanka Raniga, Room 13, Green Bay intermediate

Melinda Szymanik is a great author. She created a vivid scene in the reader’s head. She wove a story of friendship, woe, hope and loss … the list goes on and on.

For those who haven’t read it, the story is about a boy and his family. The story is a Polish version of life. The boy and his famly are kicked off their farm and are taken to a Russian camp. All people over 14 must work at the camp in order to earn money and buy food.  They are taken in trains equipped with nothing but a hearth to cook on and a hole in the floor to relieve themselves. The family is taken to a number of camps before they are split up. The boy’s brother and father have to join the war training camp, while the boy, his mother and his sister are taken far away to a farm. There is illness in the family. There is uncertainty. What will become of them? Will they ever find each other again?

This novel was really gripping. Melinda has put a lot of thought into it, to show the characters’ side of the story. This book was extraordinary; I was on the brink of tears. I also liked how Melinda has added part of the language to the story, making it seem more realistic. The plot was absolutely heart-stirring, marvelous and exciting. For example, when you are reading this novel, you start predicting what will happen, but then something out of the blue happens, keeping the novel fast-paced with no dull moments. I have officially fallen head over heels with this book.