The Red Ribbon

Written by Lucy Adlington
Review by Nicole Hilton

Set during the Holocaust, the book begins with Ellie, a teenager going for a job as a pattern cutter in a small dress-making factory. We soon find out this job is based in a concentration camp called Birchwood (in actuality, Auschwitz) and that Ellie is a Jewish girl helping to make clothing for the members of the regime that oversees her internment. The vivid descriptions of colours and fabrics are immensely detailed, making the reader feel as though they are really experiencing the beauty and excitement that Ellie feels when she is in the sewing room.

This is a book about friendship, love and finding strength in the darkest of times. However, there are sections of the book where the characters do not feel fully rounded. The extreme conditions against which the book is set needs a delicate balance of respect and rebellion. The main protagonist, Ellie, is a strong-willed girl with a great deal of spirit but it sometimes feels like her determination is not presented in the most authentic way. It is at these times that the dialogue can feel a little creaky and unbelievable.

Overall, I enjoyed the premise of the story. The descriptions of the clothes are detailed and beautiful, and the portrayal of the growing friendship between the girls is believable and touching. Suitable for girls aged ten and upwards.