MMGM: Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen


Danger is never far from Audra's family farm in Lithuania. She always avoids the occupying Russian Cossack soldiers, who insist that everyone must become Russian -- they have banned Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and even the language. But Audra knows her parents are involved in something secret and perilous.

When Cossacks arrive abruptly at their door, Audra's parents insist that she flee, taking with her an important package and instructions for where to deliver it. But escape means abandoning her parents to a terrible fate.

As Audra embarks on a journey to deliver the mysterious package, she faces unimaginable risks, and soon she becomes caught up in a growing resistance movement. Can joining the underground network of book smugglers give Audra a chance to rescue her parents?


Jennifer Nielsen's historical fiction rocks.  I've thoroughly enjoyed her first two and was eager to read this one.  It was even better than I hoped.  I'd never heard of book smugglers such as are described in this book, but it makes for a compelling background for this story of Lithuanian resistance.  Not only is this a powerful story of courage and friendship, but it's a incredible ode to the importance of books and reading and knowledge.  Audra knows her parents are up to something, but until they are arrested by the Russian invaders she doesn't know what.  After being forced to flee, Audra meets up with some of her parents co-book smugglers and must choose whether to participate or not.  She wants desperately to rescue her parents, but at what cost? 

As with all her books, Nielsen knows how to tell a story that is hard to put down.  Audra is a sympathetic character who struggles with powerful emotions: fear, anger, guilt, and loyalty all exist in her heart.  As she gets more involved in the book smuggling movement she must make difficult decisions and use every magic trick her father taught her to save herself and her friends and the books.  With some interesting twists revealed at the end that change everything, Audra and her friends must decide just what they are willing to sacrifice in the name of saving Lithuanian culture.

Nielsen has written another compelling, well-told, historical tale full of powerful themes, I highly recommend it.  This is the kind of historical fiction that young readers are bound to enjoy.


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