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Allies by Alan Gratz

Allies (edition 2019)

by Alan Gratz (Author)

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230991,487 (4.1)1
It is June 6, 1944, D-Day, and Dee Carpenter (true name Dietrich Zimmermann), an underage private in the United States Army, is headed for Omaha Beach, seeking revenge for his uncle, who was arrested by Nazis when Dee was a little boy; meanwhile, Samira Zidano, an eleven-year old French-Algerian girl is looking for the French resistance, desperate to deliver the message that the invasion is about to begin, and get their help in freeing her mother--this is the most important day of the twentieth century, and both children want to fight, and survive.… (more)
Authors:Alan Gratz (Author)
Info:Scholastic Press (2019), 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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Allies by Alan Gratz


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Dee, a young U.S. soldier, is on a boat racing toward the French coast. And Dee -- along with his brothers-in-arms -- is terrified. He feels the weight of World War II on his shoulders.

But Dee is not alone. Behind enemy lines in France, a girl named Samira works as a spy, trying to sabotage the German army. Meanwhile, paratrooper James leaps from his plane to join a daring midnight raid. And in the thick of battle, Henry, a medic, searches for lives to save.

In a breathtaking race against time, they all must fight to complete their high-stakes missions. But with betrayals and deadly risks at every turn, can the Allies do what it takes to win?
  unsoluble | Apr 21, 2021 |
Covering a 24-hour period, this book follows the lives of numerous characters as they traverse northern France on D-Day. There's 16-year-old Dee, who is secretly a German refugee now fighting for the U.S. alongside his best friend, a Jewish boy determined to kill every German he sees. Then there's 11-year-old Samira, whose mother is part of the French resistance but who experiences doubt from Frenchmen who believe their Algerian roots make them care less about France's freedom. And along the way, there's also Henry, Bill, James, Monique, and others who show the many fronts of this fight from spies and saboteurs to paratroopers and tank drivers to soldiers and medics.

This book covers a lot of ground, but somehow manages to make every character feel real, with the reader becoming fully invested in each story. With such a large cast, Gratz makes room for just about everyone: American, British, Canadian, and French characters who represent Black, indigenous, and Jewish backgrounds as well as refugee/immigrant families, families with missing or dead parents, and girls & women who step into roles stereotypically deemed for men. It's certainly not all rosy, with these characters facing racial or gender discrimination, including slurs and segregation, as well as the loyalty of refugees/immigrants being questioned. However, Gratz leaves some room for optimism as relevant here and there.

I found the book's start a little slow, but that may have been more to do with my own mood than the book. (That is the only reason I dinged the book half a star in my rating, and it might not be fair, but I did struggle a bit to get into it.) For the most part, Gratz writes a story full of action and adventure, leaving almost every chapter on a cliffhanger. Although we all know that the Allies will ultimately triumph on D-Day, it is one of history's bloodiest and deadliest days, so the reader is constantly left in suspense as to what will happen to the characters ... especially when it becomes clear that Gratz WILL kill off beloved characters. I am still reeling from the death of poor sweet Bill, who quickly wins over the reader with his love of history, specifically William the Conqueror and the Bayeux Tapestry, and who never manages to make it as far into France as his father did before succumbing to death in World War I. His legacy ends up becoming like his father's, in leaving behind a pregnant widow to mourn him.

With that in mind, while this book is meant for young readers and can spare some of the worst of gory descriptions, it is still not for the faint of heart. It is certainly important in helping young readers make connections with dates and figures, putting faces and names (albeit fictional ones) to the thousands who were slain. Gratz also makes connections and parallels to today, some more obliquely in the text (specifically talking about how Germany didn't turn into a Nazi state overnight but how Hitler fueled flames of hate that were already there, and how enough good people doing nothing allowed the evil to take over) and some directly stated in the factual backmatter (giving data about the immigrants who fought in WWII and those enrolled in the U.S. military today).

Despite a book that is incredibly inclusive, the book cover still literally centers a white male. It is only after looking at it several times that I realized one faded sepia background character is Black; no women are present, despite several playing crucial roles in the book. The first page of every chapter and the backmatter are all printed on gray paper with black typeset, which is not super readable.

All in all though, this is a solid read that helps bring history to life and reminds us of the collective failures and successes of humankind. As the book's message shows and tells us, we can accomplish a great deal when we work together for a better future. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Jan 23, 2021 |
Allies is a historical fiction piece, which explores D-Day from different perspectives. Dee is from Germany, but escapes to the US and despises the Nazis. He is only 16 years old, but pretends to be 18 so he could enlist. Dee and Sid are friends who support each other. Each character throughout the book plays their own roll in the events. Although they play their own parts, they find strength together. Highly recommended read! ( )
  lflareads | Jun 27, 2020 |
This was good, but not not as good as "Refugees" by the same author. However, it did give the reader an insight into a pivotal historical event. I liked the various perspectives, and there was certainly lots of action, but I didn't feel particularly invested in any of them. In fact, my favourite characters, Dorothy and Monique, only made an appearance later in the novel. Their stories were amazing as, together, they helped save injured soldiers despite the military's policy of no females on the front.

"Allies" was definitely not for the faint-hearted. It was quite gruesome in palaces, which was understandable considering it focused on the D-Day invasion on the Normandy beaches, but it showed the sacrifices people from various parts of the world made trying to stop Hitler.

One complaint I do have with this novel was that there were too many characters. I would just get settled into one of the characters' stories, when the book would transition to another character. I think young readers would struggle trying to keep track of them all, and would find the constant changes confusing. Overall, however, "Allies" was a fast-paced, well-researched story for middle-grade readers. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jun 10, 2020 |
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Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
-- General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Order of the Day, June 6 1944
First words
Dee Carpenter’s foot slipped off the wet ladder and his stomach lurched into his throat.
Uncle Otto's disappearance was the final straw for Dee's parents. They'd already been horrified by the Nazis' growing power in their country. Stunned by how many people voted for the Nazis and showed up at their rallies. Nazi flags had appeared on every office building and shop and home, until it became dangerous not to have one. Until dissent became unpatriotic. Until it became criminal to not stand and salute the führer.

And the worst part was that Germany hadn't suddenly "become" racist and evil. That rot had been there, under the surface, the whole time. Hitler's hate-filled speeches had allowed the seeds of German bigotry to grow like weeds until they choked out anything else that might have flowered there. Dee and his family had just been living in their own little bubble and hadn't noticed it.
Or would Sid blame Dee and his parents for what had happened in Germany? It was true that Dee's family hadn't been the ones persecuting Jews and other minorities. But Dee and his parents hadn't done anything to try to stop the Nazis either. They hadn't spoken up when they could, and when it was too late to speak up, they had run away.
If Day, the practice jumps in England, the anti-aircraft fire over the Channel, parachuting into France, the British bombing--each of them had been real, and frightening, in their ways. But the way Major MacLeod and the others had been there one moment and then just- just obliterated the next, chilled James to the bone. The thought that his life might end instantly, explosively, in the fraction of a second, scared a stillness into him he knew would be with him the rest of his life.
Maybe, just maybe, Henry thought, this was a beginning. Maybe serving together, fighting together, living and suffering together, would make white people see black people as equals. Maybe, one day, white Americans and black Americans would eat together in the same restaurants. Maybe one day Henry would sit anywhere he wanted to sit in a movie theater, next to a white person, maybe, on the first floor. And maybe someday, the film they watched together would be a screwball comedy or an action adventure or a creepy monster movie with a black man as the main character, not the main character's servant or piano player.
His family should never have left. They should have spoken up before things got this bad, even if it had meant disappearing into the Night and Fog. If everyone had spoken up at once, they couldn't have made them all disappear, could they?
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It is June 6, 1944, D-Day, and Dee Carpenter (true name Dietrich Zimmermann), an underage private in the United States Army, is headed for Omaha Beach, seeking revenge for his uncle, who was arrested by Nazis when Dee was a little boy; meanwhile, Samira Zidano, an eleven-year old French-Algerian girl is looking for the French resistance, desperate to deliver the message that the invasion is about to begin, and get their help in freeing her mother--this is the most important day of the twentieth century, and both children want to fight, and survive.

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