“He tapped my chest. ‘Happy is here.’ He tapped his own chest. ‘Here.’
I looked down past my chin. ‘Inside?’
It was getting crowded in there. First angel. Now happy. It seemed there was more to me than cabbage and turnips.”
― Jerry Spinelli, Milkweed

Two weeks ago, I asked the ladies in my book club for Holocaust-related book recommendations, and by the end of the day, I had more titles in my to-read list than I can count. One of those suggestions was Milkweed. Instantly intrigued by the synopsis of this novel, when I found the audiobook on Overdrive, I immediately downloaded it and began listening.

Centered on the life of a young orphan boy, Milkweed is a coming-of-age story told through the eyes of the child. In a world turned upside down due to the start of World War II and the Nazi invasion in Warsaw, Poland, this young boy has no identity, so he becomes everything he is told to be. He is a Gypsy. He is a Jew, a filthy son of Abraham. He is Stupid. He is Happy. He is a son. He is an orphan. He is a Thief. His name is Misha Pilsudski.

As anti-Semitism rises and war rages in Warsaw, Misha does not understand the hatred that surrounds him. He thinks that the men washing the floor with their beards are having fun and even asks to be painted yellow like some of the people in the street. Misha also believes that the Jackboots (Nazis) love him because he’s not a Jew but a Gypsy, and wants to become a Jackboot himself one day!

While bombs fall from above and people lay dead in the streets, Misha continues to question why all of this is happening. Threats mean nothing to him, and his intrigue for life and the world only seems to expand; but, will his curiosity be his salvation or make him a target to the enemy that surrounds him?

Milkweed is honestly a masterpiece, for lack of a better word, and I was sad when each chapter came to an end! The story highlights the innocence of a child and proves that hatred is taught, and, as I was listening to this narrative, I kept thinking about the new movie Jojo Rabbit and how similar the storylines seem to be, though I have yet to see the film myself. Children see war very differently to adults, and it was truly remarkable how the author, Jerry Spinelli, tapped into Misha’s mind to deliver such a thought-provoking story.

If you love historical fiction and are looking for something different, Milkweed is a MUST read! This novel is going to be one of my top recommends whenever someone asks for new book titles.

[yasr_multiset setid=0] Ages: 15+

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