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Pen Is Good

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Throughout the novel Roberto is trying to the escape the Germans and war after he is taken from his hometown, Venice, Italy. The Germans forced Italian boys of all ages on trains throughout their empire to build concentration camps, train tracks, and everything you could possibly need to steal over 6 million people’s lives. Roberto’s Jewish friend who he knew from school is mistaken for a Christian, (Samuele) ends up in the same camp. Now Roberto has someone to talk to in the camps, but he couldn’t bare the guilt of watching Jews get beaten and mistreated from the other side of the fence he built with his own hands. So, he runs away.

What was most interesting was that the novel presented the holocaust to readers through a very unique different set of eyes. Eyes of a boy who is smart and capable of working hard, who is with and against Hitler, who just wants to stay safe and see his family and there is only one way for him to do that. Run away. The strengths were definitely the chapters about Roberto surviving through the cold forest while starving and coming across villages ransacked by Nazis. There was also a more complexity to surviving, for example if he found civilization, he couldn’t feel safe because he would be viewed as the enemy, and if it was a German town he would be sent back to another camp and beaten because he ran away from his last camp. As far as surviving goes it was similar to the book Hatchet by Gary Paulson, but it was a quicker pace and finding other people in the forest was actually an issue because of the fact that he could be their enemy. Unlike Hatchet there was a destination, a place where he could maybe feel comfortable, it was his home, Italy.

After reading Stones in Water, you will be very glad that the story doesn’t end there, and you should’ve learned a lot about what side of the holocaust Italy took and how Italians felt about it. Few people are aware that allies of Nazis were also in pain throughout the war. Stones in Water reminds the world how many people were affected by Nazis. It is too easy to take our pleasures and things that are normal to have in today’s world for granted.



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