Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Review: Odin's Promise: A Novel of Norway by Sandy Brehl

Odin's Promise: A Novel of Norway
by Sandy Brehl 
Publisher: Crispin Books 
Published: May 30, 2014

Amazon Synopsis:

Odin’s Promise is a historical novel for middle-grade readers, a story of the first year of German occupation of Norway in World War II, as seen through the eyes of a young girl. When Hitler’s troops invade Norway in the spring of 1940, eleven-year-old Mari is forced to grow beyond her “little girl” nickname to deal with harsh new realities in her small village. At her side is Odin, her faithful Norwegian elkhound. The dog, not one for quiet resistance, quickly makes an enemy of soldiers who patrol the area. Mari, her family, and her neighbors are soon drawn into the activities of the underground resistance movement, as young and old find a way to oppose the occupying forces and show their love for their native land. The year will bring many challenges, as Mari confronts danger, develops her inner strength, and finds she is able to endure hardship and heartache.

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 My Thoughts:

Odin's Promise is about an eleven-year-old girl, Mari and her dog Odin in 1940, in newly occupied Norway. The Germans had come and pretended to be friendly, but rapidly placed more and more restrictions on them including things like not being able to wear their traditional dress for celebrations. Food was heavily rationed, radios were forbidden and it became difficult to know whom to trust. Some Norwegians, in order to get more ration cards joined the NS and worked with the Germans but many more formed the underground resistance.

Odin's Promise was inspired by several actual events that took place during the war in Norway. At the end of the book you'll find that information in the author's note as well as information on Syttende Mai (Norway's Constitution Day). There is also included a glossary of Norwegian and German words and a list of other books for middle grade/middle school readers about the same time and place in history.

The book was a fascinating account of the difficulties of life for a young person during wartime. For those young people who have been fortunate enough never to have faced war this book may help them understand some of the deprivations that they would have to endure if our country were occupied by another.

I enjoyed the family relationships in Mari's family, particularly the camaraderie she had with her brother Bjorne. I also liked the close relationship that Mari had with Bestamor. But the closest relationship that Mari had was with Odin and it was evident that the love between them went both ways. Never requiring a leash, Odin always obeyed her commands, breaking off his hunts at her call. Odin was always there after school to walk her home. They were constant companions since her eighth birthday when Mari's father had given her the Norwegian elkhound.

Odin's Promise moves along at a good clip which should keep the interest of any reader. There is plenty of suspense and danger and you'll probably need a tissue or two if you're emotional at all.

Although the target audience is for middle grade students, I'm sure that many people that age or older will enjoy this book. I certainly did! I gave this book a rating of 5 stars out of 5.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Books have been a central part of Sandy's life since bedtime read-alouds with siblings. Reading and writing with and for her students during her long teaching career led to some publications in magazines and journals. 

When Sandy retired from teaching and joined SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) she gained a critique group and took part in professional workshops and conferences. The development of her writing craft and extensive research led to the publication of Odin's Promise.

She writes picture book text, poetry, early reader paneled text, and professional articles on developing reading with quality literature.

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