We Are Wolves

Atheneum. Mar. 2022. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665904223.
Gr 4-6–Liesl, her brother Otto, and sister Mia are “Wolfskinder,” German children orphaned or separated from their families in East Prussia at the end of World War II. Just 11 years old, Liesl’s fierce devotion to her younger siblings helps keep them—and their dream of being reunited with family—alive in a harsh and dangerous landscape. In their struggle to survive, the children find unexpected kindness, even friendship, from enemy Russian troops. But the soldiers can provide only temporary shelter from war’s senseless destruction and cruelty; the children are soon on their own again, living as forest scavengers. The plot’s relaxed pace is bolstered by vivid settings and nuanced, memorable characters. Liesl realistically transitions from child to adult, observing that, “We are all the same deep down. German. Russian. Children. Soldiers.” While the novel ends on a hopeful note, Nannestad leaves readers with an important, timely question: For those fleeing a country affected by war, does survival require surrendering cultural identity and heritage?
VERDICT A compelling mix of historical fiction, survival, and adventure, this title shines light on a little-known episode from history. Recommended for all middle grade collections.

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