Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf

Book Cover:  Someone Named EvaLoved this book.

Loved it.

Read on . . .

One of my favorite types of books to read are books that take place around World War II and the Holocaust.  There will never be a drought of stories to tell from this horrific part of history.  But I was shocked when I picked up Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf.  I had never read a book told from this particular perspective during the war.  Completely and utterly fascinating to me.  A true example of how a piece of historical fiction can open my eyes into a world that I knew nothing about.  I could not put this book down.  I carried it with me everywhere the day I read it.

Just a few short weeks after Milada’s eleventh birthday, Nazi’s storm every home in her town in Czechoslovakia and take everybody away.  Milada, her mother and grandmother are immediately separated from her father and brother and taken to a gymnasium where she undergoes a physical and doctors measure her features.  Milada and another classmate are torn again from their families, placed on a bus and sent to Poland.  When they arrive in a new girls school, Milada realizes that each girl there shares two traits in common:  blue eyes and blonde hair.  In addition, each has exactly the right size head or nose.

It is at this school that their indoctrination to Germanization begins.  She is renamed Eva and each girl is trained to forget everything about their past.  They have no past.  They only have futures of being the perfect German citizen and be raised up to be perfect German wifes.  Eva struggles with her new identity, the new language and to remain true to her upbringing and background.  She holds on to a pin from her grandmother to always remember who she is.

And then the impossible happens.  Eva can no longer remember her true name.  What did people use to call her?  Can she recall it?  She can’t remember her name.  The Germans have taken everything from her.

After the intense period of training, each girl is adopted into a German family.  With a new name, a new language, a new sister and a new mother and father, will Eva be able to remember who she really is?  Or will she be lost forever?

Stunning.  This story had me jaw dropping all over the place.

There is a seven page author’s note at the end of the book which really brought the whole thing home for me.  Inspired by the true events that took place in the town of Lidice where Hitler had a personal vendetta for a particular officer there, Hitler ordered the entire town to be emptied and razed.  The men and boys were shot immediately while the women and children spent three days in the Kladno school gym.  Their heads were measured and their eye and hair colors examined to see if they matched Aryan standards.  Children who were selected for “Germanization” and the very youngest were sent directly to orphanages where they were adopted by German citizens.  Many children in the retraining program were literally kidnapped off of the streets.  At the end of the war, these Lidice children were tracked down and returned back home to their families.   And for the smallest children who remembered nothing of their former lives were traumatized when removed from their adoptive German parents.

someone named eva paperbackSomeone Named Eva introduced me to this horrific aspect of World War II.  Eva’s story was beautifully told and I felt so drawn to her.  Even to the very last page, I had no idea where Eva’s story would go.  I’d love for more people to pick this book up.  It deserves a wide audience.  In fact, the more I think back on this book, the more I love it.  An excellent book and I’d highly recommend it for readers of all ages.

(And by the way, the hardcover has a terrible cover.  It’s the copy that I read.  Thank goodness they improved the paperback.)

Links of interest:  Joan M. Wolf websiteMore book blogger reviews.
Genre:  Middle grade historical fiction.  Approx ages 9-12.
Publisher: Clarion Books.  July 16, 2007.
Hardcover, 208 pages. ISBN 0618535799
Someone Named Eva is available from your favorite independent bookstore, Powell’s, and Amazon.

23 comments


  1. I’ve always been drawn to literature about the WWII/Holocaust period of history. It’s heartbreaking but important to understand and claim as a part of our history. This one sounds wonderful.

    I also agree about the hardback cover. When I saw this one in my local library, I cringed! Much improvement with the softcover :)

    on October 14th, 2009 at 8:35 am
  2. This book sounds wonderful (in a horrible events way). Though I’m not much of a reader on the Holocaust this book intrigues me. I’m going to add it to my list of books to get. Thanks!

    on October 14th, 2009 at 8:52 am
  3. This sounds heartbreakingly wonderful.
    I’ve read books from the point of those discriminated against (Night, Anne Frank, etc.) but have yet to see one from this point of view. It’s definitely going on my to-read list.

    on October 14th, 2009 at 9:43 am
  4. I’ve had this one on my TBR list for some time. Your review definitely makes me want to bump it up!

    on October 14th, 2009 at 9:55 am
  5. I did not know that the Germans did this to children. How frightful. Is it based on a true story? (I like the paperback cover much better, too).

    on October 14th, 2009 at 10:29 am
  6. A Bookshelf Monstrosity – I would have picked it up based on the Nazi flag in the background alone, but I put this one on hold so hadn’t seen the cover until I picked it up.

    Michelle – For some reason, I’m a huge Holocaust reader.

    Emilee – It is heartbreakingly wonderful. And the first I’d seen from this point of view.

    Melissa – I’m glad it’s already on your TBR list! I had never heard of it until we read it for book club.

    Jeane – It is based on a true story/circumstances. The paragraph beginning, “seven pages author notes” explains the real town that the author based this story on. I can’t believe that I had never heard of this indoctrination before. Now I want to read more about it.

    on October 14th, 2009 at 10:41 am
  7. Oh my goodness! I wish I’d known about this a few weeks ago! I am teaching a literature circle class at my homeschooling co-op this fall, and the focus is on World War 2 perspectives. We’re reading Number the Stars, Snow Treasure, and Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes. I wish I could have gotten this one in, too!

    on October 14th, 2009 at 10:56 am
  8. Okay, I will admit, I’m not as big of a fan of this time as you are, but this review really caught my eye. I may even pick it up on your recommendation, in fact it’s already on my wish list. Thanks for opening my eyes to a different aspect of this time period, I’m very curious!

    on October 14th, 2009 at 11:21 am
  9. I loved this one, too, Natasha. Such a clear window into a particular aspect of the Holocaust.

    on October 14th, 2009 at 11:48 am
  10. This looks soooooo interesting.

    on October 14th, 2009 at 11:52 am
  11. I loved this book too. Such a fascinating and horrifying subject. I didn’t know anything about the Germanization previously.

    And, I too am glad they changed the cover for the paperback.

    on October 14th, 2009 at 12:08 pm
  12. Oh my gosh, that is horrific! I’m adding this to my wish list.

    on October 14th, 2009 at 1:41 pm
  13. I loved your review, and I’ve requested this one from the library. Thanks!

    on October 14th, 2009 at 4:14 pm
  14. Sounds very interesting. Would fit right in with the WWII reading binge I’ve been on lately.

    on October 14th, 2009 at 9:22 pm
  15. Wow, this one sounds fascinating.

    on October 14th, 2009 at 9:46 pm
  16. I agree: the paperback looks much more appealing!

    on October 14th, 2009 at 10:08 pm
  17. I knew that this sort of thing happened, but I haven’t read a book about it (fiction that is). It sounds really gripping!

    on October 15th, 2009 at 3:49 pm
  18. We posted your review on War Through the Generations.

    on December 29th, 2009 at 9:43 pm
  19. This is a wonderful, well written book. It should be included in any study of WWII either as a group novel study or made available for supplemental reading. I have a collection of dozens of books on WWII that I use for novel study in my class and this is one of the best. I, too, was surprised to read it and find a perspective of the war that I had not read about before. Although written for upper elementary/middle school, it would be appropriate to use in high school or adult/college classes as the topic is so unique.

    on August 2nd, 2010 at 10:10 am
  20. WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!! Those are the worst covers EVER HOW DID THEY COME UP WITH THOSE STUPID ONES?!

    on October 1st, 2010 at 8:47 pm
  21. This book is on the 3rd – 5th grade reading list for the state of Florida. I put it on hold at our local library and when I picked it up and saw the cover, I knew I had to read it before giving it to my 5th grade daughter (she is a blonde with blue eyes). After finishing the book, I was appauled that a book like this would be suggested to elementary school children. The subject matter is more appropriate for high schoolers. There was a lot of violence, racism and derogatory comments about Jews. I guess that is what you would expect from a book with a Nazi flag on the cover! I just don’t want my children exposed to that at such a young age, even if it is historically correct.

    on October 10th, 2010 at 3:26 pm
  22. [...] Maw Books Blog [...]

    on January 5th, 2011 at 7:04 pm
  23. i read someone named eva i love that book is awsome i hope you write more books about the world war 2

    on April 22nd, 2011 at 2:44 pm

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