Acts of Resistance
In Bulgaria in 1943, the Nazis are making deals with a collaborationist regime to deport the country’s Jewish population to death camps. Three teenagers are determined to stop them. Lily is the secretary of the officer in charge of the deportations, but when she sees innocent people dying on the deportation trains, she looks for ways to stop her boss. Misho is Jewish, hiding in plain sight as the driver of courageous archbishop Stefan. Peter, the youngest of the group, is a villager who wants to protect his best friend, and when he sees his elders not doing enough, he joins the armed resistance. Although the teens hardly meet, each of them plays a role in the rescue of nearly 50,000 Jews.
Carrillo draws extensively from archival sources and bases his characters on real people, most notably Lily Panitza, who spied on her boss, with whom she pretended to have a love affair, and sent word of his orders in advance to Jewish leaders so they and their community members could hide. Carrillo’s fictionalized characters give readers a sense of the individuals behind the documents. Most compelling to teen readers is Peter, whose idealism and loyalty to his friend draws him into an assassination plot even though he cannot bring himself to kill another person. Acts of Resistance is a quick read that shines light on a little-known and highly successful attempt in a small, little-known country to protect its people, its dignity, its independence, and its way of life against the powerful Nazi regime.