Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Review: The Path Divided by Jeanne Moran

Risking Exposure, Book 2
by Jeanne Moran
Middle Grade Historical
295 pages

Every choice has a consequence.

When a magical picture frame reveals the danger facing a teenage traitor, her best friend hatches a plan to sneak her out of Nazi Germany. Options are few. Choices are desperate.

Decades later, an aged Nazi hiding under an alias plans to die with his secrets intact. Confronted with his role in the fate of his sister and her best friend, he must decide: maintain his charade or face the consequences of the path he chose so long ago.

In this powerful conclusion to Risking Exposure, interwoven tales of guilt, sacrifice, and hope crack the thin divide between personal safety and loyalty to those we claim to love.


With lots of tension, emotion and a tiny dab of magic, this is an intriguing tale which brings a bit of World War II to life in a way appropriate for ages 10 to 16.

After her parents' death, Rennie works on a farm and leads a quiet life as a girl in Nazi Germany should. She wonders how her best friend, a girl suffering from polio, is and hopes that after her disappearance that she's fine. Scarred by their father and the brutal murder, Werner, Rennie's older brother, fully supports the Nazi cause and is disturbed by his sister's attitude to the undesirables. Rennie doesn't want to do anything to hurt her brother, but she also can't turn a blind-eye, especially when it comes to her best friend. Thanks to a magical picture given to her, Rennie can see the paths change color with each decision she makes. But each decision, while helping one side, puts the other in danger. Rennie hopes to find a way to save both her brother and friend, or maybe must choose only one.

This is the second book in the series, and while it isn't extremely hard to sink into book two without reading the first one, I would still recommend reading them in order so as to fully understand the circumstances and characters.

This book is written from different points of views and time lines. While Rennie lives during WWII, Werner's part is placed more in the future, long after the war has ended. Both also include flashbacks, which help the needed emotions and situations slide together. By doing this, the author has done a wonderful job at bringing across the depth of the attitudes surrounding the characters and makes it easier to understand their decisions and the impact it made on their lives.

Unlike many books which take a look at this time period, the author brings the problems and difficulties across in a way young readers can connect with. Rennie is a normal girl with a golden heart. Her concern for others and recognition of the situation around her make her easy to root for. It also becomes clear how difficult it is to make certain decisions when placed at a type of crossroads. I found the magical painting to be a wonderful way to bring this problematic across. Every decision and action has consequences, and not all are always the way we'd hope them to be.

The plot hits upon issues which are appropriate for the age group, and while it is sold as a young adult book, I'd recommend it even for upper middle graders. It takes a more personal, every-day life view of WWII and brings Germany and some normal citizens' problems across in a very realistic way. But the steady pacing and tension situations make sure this isn't only a read for those interested in history. It's a gripping read which will draw even more history-shy readers in

And here she is...

In her career as a pediatric physical therapist, Jeanne Moran helped hundreds of children with disabilities gain strength and motor skills. That left her spare time (ha!) to teach Sunday School, direct an after-school program, organize an international student-athlete exchange, and help plan and implement construction of a new community playground. Along the way, she learned a bit about tang soo do and sudoku, tap dancing and German, whole foods cooking and the joy of selling on eBay. Anything to avoid cleaning!

Jeanne writes fiction and non-fiction for young and young-minded readers surrounded inspirational quotes, vinyl records, countless books, and innumerable dust bunnies.  

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