Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Children and Fire

Posted by nliakos on February 18, 2012

by Ursula Hegi (Scribner 2011)

The fourth book in the Burgdorf Cycle, Children and Fire tells the story of the young Thekla Jansen, who teaches the fourth grade at Burgdorf’s elementary school. A passionate and dedicated teacher, Thekla knows herself to be a good person with high moral standards and without prejudice against non-Aryans such as her former teacher and mentor (A Russian Jew who has converted to Catholicism) and her mother’s Jewish employers the Abramovitzes. Nevertheless, as the Nazis tighten their grip on power and begin to purge those who cannot prove themselves to be pure Germans, Thekla finds reasons to go along with the changes.  She thinks she can influence her students for the better, and she believes that the Nazis will not last. Too late, she realizes that she can scarcely recognize herself in the person she has become.

I would like to say that in Thekla’s place, I would have done differently–but I doubt it. Standing up to evil takes more courage than I think I have.

I still think that Stones from the River is the best of the cycle, but Children and Fire is a good, if quick, read.

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