If I Should Die Before I Wake (SPOILER FREE)

Author:Han Nolan | Published: May 1st 2003 by HMH Books for Young Readers | Series: N/A | Length: 293 pages | Genre: Historical Fiction| ISBN:9780152046798|Source: Amazon (Book)

Hilary hates Jews. As part of a neo-Nazi gang in her town, she’s finally found a sense of belonging. But when she’s critically injured in an accident, everything changes.
Somehow, in her mind, she has become Chana, a Jewish girl fighting for her own life in the ghettos and concentration camps of World War II.
Han Nolan offers powerful insight into one young woman’s survival through the Holocaust and another’s journey out of hatred and self-loathing.

This chilling tale revolves around two young women and their desire to live beyond their circumstances. Hilary is a young teenager who gets recruited into a neo-Nazi group as an outlet for the hate, anger and rage she feels as a result of how her life has gone up to the point of the accident. Chana is a young Polish Jew who describes the trials her family and friends face at the hands of the Nazi’s during the course of World War II. Hilary ends up living the life of Chana through a series of dreams/visions as she fights for her own life in a hospital bed in her home town. As Chana recounts the evils she had to face over the course of about 5 years Hilary comes to realize that her and Chana have much in common and together these young women battle death itself.

I don’t know where to begin about how this book took me on a roller coaster of emotions. First and foremost I read it twice back to back to make sure I absorbed the pull impact of the story. There are so many topics that are touched on here. From postpartum depression to feelings total abandonment and despair this story really captures the hopeless that could potentially dwell in each one of us. On the other spectrum it also touches on a strength that we all have to not let the circumstances of our life be an excuse to not push on for better. As I read this tale I found myself questioning my own relationship with God and my faith. As I did so I began to think about where I am in life and as a result of any circumstance could easily be in a different place.

I started off stating that this book is about two women who make the choice after gaining understanding and perspective to live beyond the hand that was dealt to them by life. It really is so much more than that. It is a dark tale of two women finding strength to get to their next in life instead of succumbing to the overwhelming odds stacked against them.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of history. While it is geared toward readers 14+ I would say those who have an understanding of World War II and possible some knowledge of Jewish culture will fare much better with this read. As always a link to the book has been added in the book information section at the top of my review.

I rated this book a 5/5. Everyone should take the time to read this.



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