Masters of Silence (The Heroes Quartet)

Written by Kathy Kacer
Review by Melissa Warren

Henry longs to ride his bike again, as his sister Helen desperately tries to remember the features of her father’s face. Thoughts like these haunt the Rosenthal children after the terrible events of Kristallnacht in 1938. Their father, along with 30,000 other Jewish men, was arrested and then disappeared on the night of broken glass. As the children long for his safe return, their mother makes the difficult choice to trek from Germany to France to hide Henry and Helen in a convent.

Masters of Silence, the second book in Kacer’s Heroes Quartet series, follows Henry, ten, and Helen, fourteen, as they hide from the Nazis in southern France. Desperate to see their parents again, and confused by the rules and rituals of the foreign nuns, Helen and Henry fight to remain hopeful, but an encounter with a group of Nazi soldiers threatens to break their spirits. The nuns, while terrified themselves, work to boost the morale of the over sixty Jewish children hiding in their convent with a visit from “the clown.” The clown visits the convent regularly and entertains the children with his vivid yet silent performances. As the children watch him tame an invisible lion, they do not know that along with lifting their spirits, the clown, Marcel Marceau, will also save their lives.

This novel explores the transformative powers of empathy, gratitude, and selflessness. As their world is torn apart by hatred and violence, the children in the convent work to create a new one built on imagination and kindness. While the story deals honestly with terrifying events, Kacer crafts a narrative that is both appropriate and inspiring for young audiences, ages ten and older. I highly recommend it.