Review by Booklist Review
Wilson (White Rose, 2019) brings photojournalist Gerda Taro to vivid life in this biographical novel of first-person, present-tense free verse poetry. Gerda Pohorylle was born in 1910 Germany, where she was the only Jewish girl in class and felt "Anderssein," or "being other." At 19, she joined the left-wing youth movement and discovered her passion working against rising Nazism. After weeks imprisoned by the Gestapo, she escaped to Paris, where she met fellow Jewish refugee André Friedmann. They changed their names to Gerda Taro and Robert Capa and plunged into writing and photographing stories for newspapers and anti-fascist publications. Taro prized her independence, seeing other men and taking on assignments of her own. But she always returned to Robert, who was the love of her life. Taro lived her convictions, spending her final days in the chaos and carnage of the Spanish Civil War, determined to get the best shot, the one that would make a difference. Back matter includes biographies of dramatis personae and a "Fact or Fiction" summary, while those interested in seeing Taro's work are directed to the International Center of Photography website. Wilson's poems read so smoothly, and her subject is so compelling, that readers may be tempted to race through, but slowing down or reading aloud illuminates the full depth and poignancy that's on display.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In this well-researched historical volume told via diary-like free verse, Wilson (The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin) recounts the inspiring journey of steadfast Gerda Taro (1910--1937) toward becoming a renowned wartime photojournalist. The narrative begins in 1917 Stuttgart, where seven-year-old Gerda Pohorylle comes to terms with the fact that her Jewish parents gave their children "good German names" to keep them from standing out. Despite this, Gerda still frequently experiences a feeling of Anderssein, or "being other." She's inspired to pursue photography after a friend's uncle purchases a portable camera, and uses her newfound love of the medium to document political activism in Leipzig. When she meets photographer André Friedmann, the two develop an intense romantic and professional connection, eventually choosing new names for themselves: Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. Together, the pair photograph the anti-fascist movement and the Spanish Civil War, netting them critical acclaim. Wilson's imagined Taro is fiercely independent and endlessly passionate about her vocation and its importance in preserving pivotal moments in history. This perceptive volume utilizes fluid, first-person present narration told with a joyful tone amid violent fascism to deliver a snapshot into an intriguing life. Ages 13--up. Agent: Roseanne Wells, Lucinda Literary. (Jan.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up--This novel explores the short life of German photojournalist, Gerda Taro, in a format that blends biography, narrative nonfiction, and verse novel, relating events from Taro's perspective in accessible first-person poetry. Chronologically, the story begins in Stuttgart in 1917, with Taro, as the only Jewish girl in her class, attempting to reconcile her religion and home life with the vivacious, confident persona she adopts publicly. As Taro gets older and Germany becomes increasingly anti-Semitic, she isdrawn into the anti-fascist movement. This activism becomes the main thread in Taro's life, causing her to eventually leave Germany for the more liberal city of Paris. Taro's activism is inextricably intertwined with her relationship with photographer André Friedmann (later known as Robert Capa), and her career as a press photographer, which culminates tragically during the Spanish Civil War. Taro is a laudable protagonist: determined, independent, resourceful, and courageous. Wilson intends her as a model for young people today, explicitly aligning the historical setting with contemporary anti-democratic movements. Wilson displays impressive attention to detail throughout and includes extensive end notes on context. However, on a narrative level, the story lacks a stronger central dramatic question and focus on internal and interpersonal conflict alongside societal conflict. VERDICT This well-researched narrative account will be most appreciated for its historical insights. Recommended particularly for classroom study of the Spanish Civil War, and for readers with an interest in photography or political advocacy.--Leonie Jordan
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
Wilson (White Rose, rev. 7/19) again traces a real-life young womanâe(tm)s activism in a novel in verse. Gerda Pohorylle, the daughter of Polish immigrants living in Germany, is taught to be true to her Jewish self âeoebehind closed doors / and / assimilate in German spaces / outside the home.âe As the Nazis gradually seize power, Gerda replaces her assimilation with political protest; after an arrest, she immigrates to Paris. There, several mentors -- including Andre Friedmann, who becomes her professional and romantic partner -- help her pursue her passion, photography. In order to command higher commissions, Gerda publicly reinvents the two of them as the Âglamorous Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. When the Spanish Civil War breaks out, Capa and Taro, sympathizing with republican resistance to Francoâe(tm)s fascist uprising, journey to Spain to chronicle the conflict. Wilson adroitly lays the foundation for Gerdaâe(tm)s early Anderssein, or âeoeothernessâe; her physical isolation from her family while in Paris; and the awakening of her lifeâe(tm)s purpose. Appended authorâe(tm)s notes separate fact from fiction and give more information about historical figures mentioned, the Spanish Civil War, and Taroâe(tm)s legacy. A bibliography and glossaries for German, French, and Spanish words complete the book. Pair with Aronson and Budhosâe(tm)s biography Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism (rev. 5/17). Betty CarterMarch/April 2023 p.83 (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A Jewish photojournalist fights fascism in Europe in the 1930s. Gerda Pohorylle came of age as the Nazi Party rose to power. As a teenager, she became involved with the leftist political movement in Germany, battling the nascent fascism of her country and campaigning for workers' rights. After a run-in with the Gestapo, she fled to Paris in 1933. There, she found a new community of organizers and radicals and learned the importance of a united movement. Enamored with photography from a young age and finally in possession of the tools to pursue it, she worked with her lover, André Friedmann, to document the anti-fascist movement. The pair chose new professional names: Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. Their coverage of the Spanish Civil War brought renown and a new home among like-minded artists, writers, and activists. Wilson shares Pohorylle's story with stunning efficiency through an economy of language that wrings sweetness from every word. The free-form verse is written in the present tense, each moment of the story its own indelible snapshot. The book captures the subject's life and the times she lived through with complexity and depth: This is not just a story of the violence of fascism, but of the burning joy of freedom and the exhilaration of shaping, with sweat and blood, a better world. It's a struggle that continues today, and Wilson skillfully draws connections between past and present. Fresh, insightful, and rich with history. (dramatis personae, author's note, selected sources, glossary) (Verse historical fiction. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.