The Enemy: Detroit, 1954
The Enemy: Detroit, 1954

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Annotation: Twelve-year-old Marjorie Campbell struggles with the ups and downs of family life, dealing with her veteran father's unpredictable outbursts, keeping her mother's stash of banned library books a secret, and getting along with her new older "brother," the teenager her family took in after his veteran father's death. When a new girl from Germany transfers to Marjorie's class, Marjorie finds herself torn between befriending Inga and pleasing her best friend, Bernadette, by writing in a slam book that spreads rumors about Inga. Marjorie seems to be confronting enemies everwhere, In all this turmoil, Marjoire tries to find her own voic
Catalog Number: #160015
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 256 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-629-79498-8 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1056-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-629-79498-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1056-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016951178
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
In 1954 Detroit, twelve-year-old Marjorie Campbell knows that the U.S. is in a "cold war," but it can be hard to tell who the enemy is. When classmates start a "slam book" about a new German student, Marjorie is torn. Her authentic first-person voice guides readers through the confusion of the McCarthy era by thoughtfully examining perception and truth. An author's note adds context. Bib.
Kirkus Reviews
Poet Holbrook brings back the Cold War in her debut novel for middle grades. White sixth-grader Marjorie has lots to worry about in the late winter of 1954. Her father came back from World War II jumpy and abrupt. She's not a fan of Frank, the 18-year-old orphan her father took in, or Carol Anne, her skittish 6-year-old sister. She's best friends with Bernadette, also white, who rules the sixth grade and would make the world's worst enemy, and she just got assigned to share a school desk with Inga, a "displaced person" whom Bernadette has decided to hate. Inga came to Detroit from Canada, but she speaks, sounds, and looks German. Marjorie is drawn to Inga, who's sunny, determined, and kind, but she's afraid to befriend her. Meanwhile Sen. Joe McCarthy's national hunt for Communists has led to the banning of many books from public libraries; in defiance of her husband's direct orders, Marjorie's mother hides a box of rescued banned books under Marjorie's bed. Holbrook pulls elements of the story from her own multicultural childhood in Detroit after the war. She's ace at delineating the petty jealousies and tyrannies of middle school girls, and her evocation of the era feels absolutely true. Marjorie's cowardice and ultimate courage lead to a rousingly satisfying ending that, if it doesn't quite tie up all the plot threads, will resonate with readers. A solid fictional examination of a time rarely depicted for this age group. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
Voice of Youth Advocates
In 1954, twelve-year-old Marjorie knows that the Nazis are the enemy, especially since her father fought in the war. She also knows that Russian commies are the enemy because Senator McCarthy says so and the librarians are removing their books from the collection. What she did not know was that the enemy could be nearby—until Inga, a refugee who emigrated from Germany through Canada, arrives in school. Marjorie’s friends, including the bossy Bernadette, ban together to shun her, and Marjorie joins them, despite the fact that she finds Inga interesting. As the girls’ taunting escalates, it soon becomes apparent to Marjorie that she needs courage to face the real enemy because friendship has nothing to do with nationality or politics and everything to do with knowing the right way to treat people. Poet Holbrook crafts a charming story based loosely on her childhood experiences in her debut novel. It addresses some timely themes. Readers experience the stark divisions among the different characters, as well as the pecking order of middle school social politics. This historical view of interpersonal relations will, no doubt, speak to many of today’s readers looking for direct and heartfelt answers as to how people can treat each other better. Marjorie, who is full of questions, is just the right type of character to take readers though this journey as she moves from uncertainty to her own personal understanding. With thoughtful characters and theme, the plot has limited action, but those who are looking for a contemplative reflection on how to open one’s heart will find just what they need in this novel.—Rachel Wadham.
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Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 252-256).
Word Count: 60,868
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 188157 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.5 / points:16.0 / quiz:Q70650
Lexile: 740L

Set in 1954, this compelling historical novel tells the story of a young girl's struggles and triumphs in the aftermath of World War II. The war is over, but the threat of communism and the Cold War loom over the United States. In Detroit, Michigan, twelve-year-old Marjorie Campbell struggles with the ups and downs of family life, dealing with her veteran father's unpredictable outbursts, keeping her mother's stash of banned library books a secret, and getting along with her new older "brother," the teenager her family took in after his veteran father's death. When a new girl from Germany transfers to Marjorie's class, Marjorie finds herself torn between befriending Inga and pleasing her best friend, Bernadette, by writing in a slam book that spreads rumors about Inga. Marjorie seems to be confronting enemies everywhere—at school, at the library, in her neighborhood, and even in the news. In all this turmoil, Marjorie tries to find her own voice and figure out what is right and who the real enemies actually are. Includes an author's note and bibliography.


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