Based on real events and told in verse, Odette’s Secrets relates the story of a young Jewish girl living in Paris with her family just before the Second World War. When her father is recruited to the army and her mother is found out to be in the Secret Service, Odette must flee to the countryside of France and pose as a Catholic with a foster family in order to survive. In the long months before she is reunited with her family, Odette struggles to keep hold of her identity as a Jew, even as she begins to forget it.
I really enjoyed reading Odette’s Secrets. It breaks the monotony of Anne Frank-style WWII historical fiction by focusing on an individual story centered on identity and family rather than the conflicts going on at the time. Odette is naïve yet strangely perceptive, and her point of view was a pleasure to read – free verse was an excellent choice for writing in her voice. Another thing I liked about this book was that it covered a topic that I didn’t know a lot about beforehand – the effects of the Holocaust in France – so, unlike most YA historical fiction, it actually taught me a lot. This book is marketed for middle schoolers and is perfectly suitable for them; however, there is a lot for older readers to appreciate as well.