The Enemy, Detroit 1954 Book Launch at Shanghai American School Pudong

Today I gave my first book talk about The Enemy. Exciting, but so weird. I am used to doing book talks sprinkled with poetry. How I came to write this one, what annoyed me enough to write that one. The explanations follow the poem. Everyone in the audience is familiar with the text because (duh) I just read it to them.

But this time, we looked at the book jacket. What could the book be about? Do you know what the cold war was? (a stand off). Do you know what a party line is? Do you know that TV sets used to come in black and white and not have remote controls? As in, you had to pick yourself out of a chair and walk across the room to change the channel. (gasp)

I told the students to take careful notes as they grow up because if a person lives long enough, their life will become history.

The Enemy is partially based on my memories, and partially based on research, infused with a lot of imagination. Below is the review from School Library Journal. But the real reviews, the ones that will count the most, will come from kids just like this.

Holbrook, Sara. The Enemy. 244p. ebook available. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629794983.
Gr 5-8–One aspect of becoming an adult—and a dominant theme in this book—is developing the understanding that our perceptions of the truth can be wrong. Marjorie is 12 years old and lives in 1950s Detroit. Not only is her family affected by the fear of communism but her father still struggles as a result of his time fighting in World War II. When Inga Scholtz, a new student from Germany, is seated next to Marjorie in class, the protagonist begins to grapple with her preconceptions and prejudices. Furthering Marjorie’s anxiety and confusion, her friends create the “Slam Book” to shame Inga. When everything comes to a head, Marjorie learns that true bravery is standing up to those who use prejudice and untruth to bully and humiliate others. Marjorie is a young woman living in a time when biased opinions are too easily distorted into fact. Holbrook uses her own firsthand knowledge, from her childhood in the 1950s, to demonstrate the impact that the outside political and social climate has on Marjorie and her family. Read-alikes include Christine Kohler’s No Surrender Soldier, Monika Schröder’s My Brother’s Shadow, and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Making Bombs for Hitler. VERDICT An excellent example of historical fiction for middle school readers. This will tie in to most curricula and is an excellent choice for any public or school library collection.–Meaghan Nichols, Archaeological Research Associates, Ont.

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