From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9–Roberto, the protagonist of Stones in Water
(Dutton, 1997), continues his struggle to return to Venice following his escape from a forced labor camp in Nazi-controlled Eastern Europe. Three years have passed and, now 15, he is alone again, having lost both his best friend, who was Jewish, and the Roman deserter who nursed him back from a bullet wound. Apprehended by the Germans, Roberto has escaped yet again, finally reaching the southern portion of Italy aboard an American warship. But his trek back home is jeopardized once more when Nazi bombs force him to jump ship. Once on Italian soil, he continues to move north; is captured by a German soldier who uses him as a translator; and eventually encounters a young woman working in the resistance movement. With her encouragement, the teen learns the intricacies of partisan fighting. Not able to stomach any killing by his own hand, he does his part through the clandestine delivery of ammunition and valuable information. Throughout his ordeal, Robertos humanity and strength of character overshadow the brutality. Napoli extends the reality of his experiences by leaving an open-ended conclusion in which Roberto reaches his beloved Venice unsure, yet hopeful of who and what he will find. Powerful World War II literature.–Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI
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Part violent war story, part survival adventure, this gripping sequel picks up where Stones in Water
(1997) left off. Roberto, 14, has escaped the Nazi prison camp and is desperate to get home to Venice. First he is forced to serve as translator for a German officer. Then he meets beautiful Volpe Rossa, who persuades him to join the Italian resistance to fight the Nazis. A map and a time line would have helped set the background here, as most readers won't be familiar with the turbulent history and the roles of Mussolini, the Allies, and the many civilians caught up in the struggle. But the confusion is part of the story, as friends and enemies on all sides confront each other in cities reduced to mud and ashes, and betrayal, brutality, and heroism are everywhere. Based on real events, this novel will draw World War II history fans with its focus on the brave young partisans who deliver arms and medicines, help prisoners escape, and pass messages about enemy troops and plans. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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