Lasky, Kathryn. The Extra.
5Q * 4P * M * J * S (a)
Lasky, Kathryn. The Extra. Candlewick, 2013. 320p. $16.99. 978-0-7636-3972-3.
As Lilo walks home from school with a friend, they are wondering why a classmate has disappeared. Since the Nuremberg Laws were passed, another Gypsy girl has gone too. Then, the jackbooted officers knock on Lilo's door, and she and her parents are taken away to a labor camp. Ironically, the movie maker Leni Riefenstahl, admired by Lilo's father before the Nazi take-over, appears at Lilo's camp looking for extras to play parts in a film she is making. She chooses Lilo. For a time, Lilo enjoys slightly better treatment on the fringe of Riefenstahl's make-believe world. The brutality goes on, however, and Lilo realizes that to live she must escape.
The story begins, as so many about Nazism do, with a picture of Lilo's family life that is soon to end: her parents are respected and skilled artisans who love her and are concerned about her progress in school. Too soon, normalcy is gone forever as they enter Nazi camps. Lasky's introduction of a historical character, who really was Hitler's favorite filmmaker, gives a unique twist to an otherwise oft-told tale. Her characters are well realized, as well: Leni Reifenstahl's veneer of kindness over her cruelty, Lilo's precocious maturity, her mother's helplessness, a guard who dares to help. Touches of humor provided by a camp-smart boy offer a little relief. Above all, Lasky's accessible style balances the grim realities of a Nazi camp with a girl's enduring will to survive--a girl who comes of age among some of history's greatest horrors.--Marla Unruh.
This reviewer enjoyed this book because it helped with understanding the Nazis from a new perspective. Not only Jews but also Gypsies were put into concentration camps, and Lilo was a Gypsy who lost everything, yet maintained her hope that she would someday find her freedom again. Teens who would enjoy this book are those who like history and who also like a good story. 5Q, 4P.--Austin Bell, Teen Reviewer.