September 28, 2009

Book Review: The Devil’s Arithmetic

Posted by at 9:10 am in Reads | Permalink


I think The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen ranks not only as one of the best Holocaust fiction books for children, but as a general all-around well written book. In addition to other Holocaust survivor stories such as Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Journey to America by Sonia Levitin, and Daniel's Story by Carol Matas, Yolen's story was so emotionally capturing that I couldn't stop reading. Readers of any age will become captivated with Hannah Stern's story as she is transported from modern day to the time of the Jewish Holocaust – a time of hardships, struggles and ultimately death for the Jewish people of Europe.

What I found so fascinating and different about this story is that Hannah also holds the memories of her life in modern times. All of these memories become a sort of facade as she spends more and more time in the Nazi concentration camp. This depiction of draining memories of those who survived in the concentration camps is an accurate telling of how the Nazis wanted the Jews to live; to drain them of their past and happy lives and only follow the rules.

One of my favorite quotes in this sad and heartfelt story is when Hannah says to Gitl, "How can you laugh?" to which Gitl replies, "Without laughter, there is no hope. Without hope, there is no life." This particular quote especially struck home for me. Thinking about all of the sad events that have happened, there has always been one family member who has tried to make our family laugh.

Lastly, after reading this book you'll also take away the following message: "Don't take what you have for granted because you never know when it will be stripped away." This message is certainly one worth keeping.

I give this book 4.8 out of 5 stars.

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

  1. jaidin

    what page is that quote on
    Hannah says to gitl, “how can you laugh?” to which gitl replies, “Without laughter there is no hope. Without hope, there is no life.”

  2. Sofie

    Read it in school… very good and descriptive. If you would like to know more about the Holocaust, I recommend this one because of all the descriptions. The characters also help reveal some information.
    Sad and sometimes depressing, but a VERY good read… the only problem is that it is too short! =0

  3. Ally

    I read this book in class last year and I thought it was amazing.All should read it.Afterwards you will appreciate all you have that much more. (Also read The Boy in Striped Pajamas)


    That book was so insipring to me.I love reading about the hoiocoust they are intersting to me.What happend to those jewish people was awfull.I don’t get the title.I need this book

  5. Brian

    I think it is book i want to read. Also i like how the quote was. I want to find the book to read more.

  6. Ki-Ayre

    The story is about a girl name Hannah and she has all these memories about what happen in life time modern times. She had a favorite quote without laughter. She also drain some in the past. And she thinks about all the sad events have happen that had always happen to her family member.

  7. Amanda

    I really liked this book. My teacher let me read it last year and I couldn’t put it down. I was in love. You should read this book. I really had fun reading this book. I give my thanks to the author. It was one of the best books I have ever read.

  8. Aly

    Another book that relates to the holocaust is a book called The Wave. It is about a history teacher who tries to show his students how life would have been as a Nazi. This is a really cool and freaky book, because it is a true story, and it took place in a high school in California. I read this in my English class. I would give it 4.3 out of 5 stars.

  9. Preznamer99

    i saw this movie in school and i REALLY REALLY REALLY liked it. i had heard a few places that there was a book too. now that i see wat a great review it got, im dying to get it!

  10. Dollar

    I absolutely love this book! Thank you for reading it, rating it, and putting it up. I give it 5 stars. I’ve read it so many times! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really think more people should read this book. Other great books I’ve read on this subject are: The boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne and Upon the Head of the Goat by Aranka Siegal. Read them!

Comments are closed.