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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
A Hostage to War: The Diary of a Young Russian Girl
by Tantiana Vassilieva
Age Range: 12+
`I am writing down what I have learnt today. War is not just a word. War is terrible and full of blood’. When the Nazis invade Russia in 1941, thirteen-year-old Tania’s life is about to change forever. Life becomes increasingly difficult for her family in the small town of Wyritza where they live because of food shortages.
By 1942 her family is starving and Tania decides to set off on a dangerous journey on her sledge in search of food. It is the heart of winter and she travels 120 kilometres in freezing conditions. Eventually finding some corn she returns to Wyritza. With her father is dead and their store of corn gone starvation beckons again, but worse is to come when Tania is taken away from her family and transported to a labour camp in Germany.
Over a period of three years Tania works in the fields and factories of the Third Reich. The work in the fields is back breaking and she wonders how she will get through another day. Although the hours are long and the food scanty she fares better in the factories.
Throughout the hardship she is kept going by the thought that her mother and sister might still be alive, together with the small acts of kindness by individuals help her to survive. This is a moving book told in an unemotional way by Tatiana Vassilieva. It displays a resilience, courage and willpower to survive against appalling adversity.
A Hostage to War: The diary of a young Russian girl was a Honor Winner of the 1998 Mildred L. Bachelder Award.