Everywhere shots are fired, still people are crying, still cities are being destroyed, still we’re waiting for the end, but even when the end arrives, there will still be tears, still people will suffer, still there will be sadness. The struggle will not end when the last shot is fired.
A coming-of-age epistolary novel written as a series of letters from people involved in World War II writing to their loved ones.
In this extraordinary novel set in World War II, three characters reveal their most intimate thoughts on the conflict. Franz, a young Nazi soldier has begun to question the rightness of the cause. Helga is a Russian girl bent on joining the resistance. Susanna is a Jewess who has been separated from her husband and children and condemned to the cruelty of a concentration camp.
This work is remarkable because the author wrote it while still a high school student in Australia, with no direct contact with survivors of the war. Several years on, she returned to it with the benefit of further research and experience to recreate this gripping tale.
Sure to be loved by readers of Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief or The Diary of Anne Frank.
Nominated for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Young Writers.
ISBN 9781922120861 (PB, 92 pp; 140mm x 216mm)
ISBN 9781922120878 (eBook)
This novella, in three vignettes in the form of letters, written by three young Europeans, simply and eloquently expresses their multiple viewpoints on the World War 2 conflict. The three characters, poignantly recount the turmoil of their own daily existence and their hopes for the future to recipients who they desperately need to believe are still surviving. These three ordinary young people are forced into extraordinary roles by the Nazi war machine.
Recently promoted from the Hitler Youth Movement to become a Nazi boy soldier, Franz writes to his Mother as he questions his loyalties to the Nazi regime. He resents being an agent of a tyrannical aggressor. Helga writes to her friend Olga about her dislocation and desperation and her urgent need to continue as a partisan fighter with the Russian Resistance where she must take life for the cause of freedom to help end the pointless destruction and suffering. A comfort for Helga is the white map handkerchief, embroidered in black thread which had dried the tears of Olga’s mother in WW1. Susannah, as a Jewish young woman, imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen, writes on precious scraps of paper to her husband and children from whom she has been cruelly separated. She realises she may be a potential victim of the Nazi genocide of the Jews. The slowly unfolding stories from Belsen in Poland to Germany, Russia and Denmark are cleverly connected in the end and explain much of the incidental history of the conflict while delivering a message of hope and human compassion.
Written by Kiri English-Hawke when she was a schoolgirl, this short, insightful narrative affirms that the current generation of young people are still affected and troubled by the Holocaust of WW2 when ordinary citizens’ lives were scarred by an horrific and hideous conflict that made no sense. It is a remarkable achievement as it offers a very positive picture on the resilience of the human spirit in the landscape of war.
– Lorraine Dobbie, Compulsive Reader
This is a most imaginatively conceived and executed account of the experiences of three young people in WW2 told through letters that they write to their mother, friend and husband respectively.
They are written simply yet convey profound emotions and much incidental history of the war. The letters are made all the more poignant as none of them knows the situation of their loved ones.
Their stories are connected in the end in a clever, convincing manner. It is a slender book, with some pages carrying only one brief letter. Although the ending promises hope, the slowly unfolding stories conveyed in the cumulation of the letters make the book a restrained elegy, a remarkable achievement for its Australian schoolgirl author.
Highly Recommended. Ages 10-16.
An outstanding book of its kind as recommended by the reviewer."
– The Free Online Library, Farlex
Most 16-year-old girls spend time focused on social networking and the next designer brand they will wear. Then you have Leichhardt’s Kiri English- Hawke, 16, who has not only written a novel but has delved into one of the darkest periods in humanity, the Holocaust.
The idea for her book, The Handkerchief Map, began when she was in year 7, beginning as a poem, then a creative piece of prose, then in letter form."
– Rashell Habib, Inner West Courier
Written in three vignettes, The Handkerchief Map is comprised of fictional heart-wrenching letters written to loved ones whose fate is unknown. There is Franz, a young Nazi solider who questions the righteousness of his cause, a Russian resistance fighter, Helga, who writes passionately about the necessity of the resistance, and Susannah, a prisoner in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, who writes longingly on scraps of paper to her husband after their cruel and painful separation. The novella, a fine example of young emerging Australian authors displaying incredible capabilities and promise, weaves hope and compassion, and displays great insight into the lives of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances.
Although written by a teenager for teenagers, The Handkerchief Map is suitable for readers of all ages, with its enduring themes of love and loss. The novella – available in a paperback and an eBook version from firstname.lastname@example.org – would be a perfect resource for Holocaust studies, humanities’ courses, or as a prescribed English text in any Australian school, given its historically and culturally accurate setting, and its simple language.
– Michael Cohen, Jewish Holocaust Centre, Melbourne
The Handkerchief Map is written in three vignettes, composed as letters written by young people to loved ones of whose fate they are unaware. There is Franz, the boy soldier recently promoted from Hitler Youth, who writes to his mother about the change in his heart; Russian resistance fighter Helga writes to her best friend Olga about the insanity of the war and the necessity for resistance; and Susannah, imprisoned in Bergen Belsen, writes on scraps of paper to a husband from whom she has cruelly been separated.
Yet it is not a book of doom and gloom. The author manages to weave hope, compassion and insight into the lives of ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances."
– Byron Shire Echo
Sometimes historical events are related to us in ways that seem so removed from our everyday. Kiri’s inspired use of letters from three young people during WWII and the Holocaust allows for an immersion into raw feelings, devastating experiences and difficult decisions and hopefully reminds us of what young people are experiencing in and through other conflicts around the world right now. If this is the author at 16 what will she write at 26?"
– Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University
Based on personal field research in Europe, and a study of the camps of Germany, the book is no flight of fantasy but an engrossing story to which the narrative adds emotional strength in a tone that is meditative and lyrical, incised by memories of loss and pain. An authentic voice, a noble story of the human spirit, of survival, love and hope. Unforgettable."
– Peter Skrzynecki, author of Immigrant Chronicles