The Island on Bird Street

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Review by: Lilley629

Alex is eleven, but lives a very different life than the other children his age. In The Island on Bird Street, written by Uri Orlev, Alex is the main character and lives in the Warsaw Ghetto since his family is Jewish. His mother left their apartment one day and never returned, so it has only been Alex and his father trying to stay alive from the Nazis. Snow, Alex’s pet mouse and longest companion, is also in the picture. He keeps Alex company when there is no one else and serves as his good luck charm. Alex, his father, and even Snow have adapted very well to their living conditions.

In the Ghetto, there was an early curfew that all the Jews had to follow. However, Alex and his father worked around it by discovering secret passageways between the buildings. His father also made friends with a man he worked with at the rope factory, Boruch. Alex and his father trusted him very much. They invited him over for dinner and played a homemade version of checkers. During work hours, Boruch helped watch Alex and hide him since children weren’t allowed in the factory. Alex learned everything he knew from his father and Boruch.

The day they had prepared for had finally come while Alex, his father, and Boruch were at the rope factory. The three of them hid behind a lot of rope so they couldn’t be seen. However, the police found them and escorted them to where all the other Jews were being rounded up. On the walk down Alex’s father and Boruch were trying to settle on who Alex would go with. They thought this was just another selection, but one of the policemen informed them that this time they were clearing the Ghetto and taking all the Jews away. This meant that Alex’s father and Boruch would have to think fast to make a plan to save Alex.

Once the police started making all of the Jews in the first group walk to be transported, Boruch started briefing Alex on the plan. His father was in the other group because he was stopped to be checked by an officer. Boruch told Alex that once he pushes him he should run to the destroyed house, Number 78 on Bird Street, and enter it from the tiny opening. Then he should go in as far as possible and wait for as long as it takes for his father to meet him there. Once it was time and Boruch pushed him and told him quietly to start running, Alex took off exactly like Boruch had told him to do. A policeman ran after him, and Boruch ran after the policeman. Boruch tripped the officer and then once Alex reached the opening he heard gunshots. Alex went inside as far as he could and was not found by the policemen. He remained hidden and was determined the stay there until his father returned, no matter how long.

Overall this book was exciting and very fun to read. I was always looking forward to keep reading, even though the plot can be predictable at times. From the beginning when you learn they’re in the Warsaw Ghetto, you have a good idea of what’s going to happen since this is historical fiction. It was also touching to know that this story was based off of the author’s own experiences. Knowing that makes the book feel more real, even though the characters are made up. Since the author is also very credible, the book was very historically accurate. Since Uri Orlev was born in Warsaw and hid in the ghetto for three years, he experienced first-hand the kinds of things Alex experienced in his novel. The treatment of Jews from the Nazis and the living conditions in the ghetto seem very accurate. In addition to remaining historically correct, Orlev also had a very genuine purpose for writing this book. I would genuinely recommend it!

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