The Assignment

Delacorte. Aug. 2020. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593123164.
Gr 6-8–High school seniors Logan and Cade are stunned when their favorite teacher gives a shocking assignment: He wants the students to debate the Final Solution, the Nazi plan to commit genocide against the Jewish people. Students quickly take sides, some hurling racist slurs while others quietly oppose the project. Best friends Logan and Cade protest the assignment, first with their teacher, then their principal, all while their romantic feelings grow. Soon they must decide how far they will take their opposition, and what risks going public will involve, as Cade learns the truth about his family. Based on a true story, Wiemer’s tale is skilled and nuanced; how characters view the assignment allows readers to examine their own biases, and POV shifts throughout provide striking insights. The author tackles an important topic with grace and dimension, though readers may find that the lack of emotional intensity within the characters makes it hard to connect with them. While the story digs deep into societal bias, the romantic subplot feels unnecessary.
VERDICT An important look at a critical moment in history through a modern lens showcasing the power of student activism. A good choice for fans of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Nic Stone’s Dear Martin.

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