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Halinka by Mirjam Pressler


by Mirjam Pressler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 4 of 4
ISBN from different edition.
  glsottawa | Apr 10, 2018 |
This was a perfect comfort read, especially for my 10-year-old self. I’m sure it would have been a favorite book of mine around that time.

I was immediately engaged. It was a very quick read and hard to put down.

I adore the narrator main character, with her strengths and flaws. I appreciate that she’s a reader, and thoughtful and introspective, and a survivor, and that she’s not always honest. In other words, she seems so real. I also like that the reader gets to know quite a bit about the other children in the home and things about some of the adults too. I also appreciated that a lot is left unknown and up to the readers’ imaginations and guesses. I think the way the story showed the girls and how they coped with their situations was very authentic. The characters are truly three-dimensional and have depth, the children and the adults too. The latter often isn’t the case in children’s books.

It reminded me a bit of The Secret Language though I thought this book was better than that one.

I felt emotionally touched, I was always interested, and I sometimes got hungry, typical of me when I’m reading books where food is described in great detail, especially when there are hungry characters and characters not getting quite enough food or not normally getting to choose what they eat.

The inside book cover mentions that the girls (in Halinka’s room) are 12 (well they’re in two grades so I’d guess different ages by at least a year) but they did seem a bit younger to me. Maybe 10? Maybe 11? Given their backgrounds and circumstances and given that this is historical fiction and not contemporary, I guess they could seem a bit younger to me than they are.

I’m not taking off any stars but there were things that bother me, such as the fat shaming, though in these girls’ cases, getting not quite enough food to be fully satisfied, it’s perfectly understandable.

I think this English language edition was translated with U.S. audiences in mind. The way they say the school grades is very American.

Anyway, I loved it and I’m so glad that I read it. This is the third book I’ve recently read that worked to get me out of a reading slump. Superb book!

Recommended for many readers, especially girls 9-12, and people who work with neglected and abused kids, institutionalized kids, and families in crisis.

ETA: I should think more before I write. I want to add that there is a lot of humor in this book despite its generally sad stories. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Mar 28, 2017 |
A sad, sweet tale of a lonely girl (I don't remember them mentioning her age, but I'd guess eleven or so) in an orphanage. Although the story is set in Germany in the early 1950s, it could come from just about any time or place.

Halinka's attempts to stay strong and find some joy in her Spartan existence ring true. At first she stays aloof from everyone, keeping her thoughts and inside her head and sharing them only with her secret book and a beloved aunt whom she occasionally visits. Eventually, however, Halinka lets her guard down and confides in a few select people at the children's home.

I thought the characterization in particular was very well-done. With the novel being set in an institution, all the orphan girls might start to blur together, but Pressler was able to make each child, and each staff member, distinctive. Although the movement in the story is largely internal, the fundraising contest added some suspense. I would highly recommend this for 9-to-12 girls.

A few notes: contrary to some of the descriptions of this book, the orphanage is NOT a home for "troubled" girls. I also don't think Halinka is Jewish, though the book wasn't entirely clear on that point. In any case it didn't matter whether or not she was. ( )
  meggyweg | May 22, 2012 |
About a young orphan girl growing up in a children's home in Germany during the 1950s. ( )
  SusieBookworm | Aug 18, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mirjam Presslerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Crawford, Elizabeth D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gosciejewicz, EvaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440228573, Mass Market Paperback)

You should never hope for a miracle, for then you might count on it really happening.

In the two years Halinka has spent in a home for girls, she has learned not to hope for anything, and to hold tightly to what she has. But all Halinka has is herself, a blanket from her beloved Aunt Lou, and a secret notebook where she holds her sayings.

Just as she is losing hope of ever finding a home, and forgetting all she once loved, Halinka sees something that reminds her that everyone needs some beauty in their lives, like they need air, or food . . . and maybe a friend. But for that, Halinka would have to share her thoughts, secrets, and maybe even her memories. And she's not sure if she can afford to lose that much.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:15 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

While living in a home for emotionally disturbed girls in Germany just after World War II, twelve-year-old Halinka carefully hides her thoughts, feelings, and even her hopes.

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