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The Blood Years (Hardcover)

The Blood Years By Elana K. Arnold Cover Image
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Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award

Named a best book of the year by the Boston Globe, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, SLJ, ALA Booklist, the Horn Book, and more

Recipient of five starred reviews

From Michael L. Printz honoree & National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold comes the harrowing story of a young girl's struggle to survive the Holocaust in Romania.

Frederieke Teitler and her older sister, Astra, live in a house, in a city, in a world divided. Their father ran out on them when Rieke was only six, leaving their mother a wreck and their grandfather as their only stable family. He’s done his best to provide for them and shield them from antisemitism, but now, seven years later, being a Jew has become increasingly dangerous, even in their beloved home of Czernowitz, long considered a safe haven for Jewish people. And when Astra falls in love and starts pulling away from her, Rieke wonders if there’s anything in her life she can count on—and, if so, if she has the power to hold on to it.

Then—war breaks out in Europe. First the Russians, then the Germans, invade Czernowitz. Almost overnight, Rieke and Astra’s world changes, and every day becomes a struggle: to keep their grandfather’s business, to keep their home, to keep their lives. Rieke has long known that she exists in a world defined by those who have power and those who do not, and as those powers close in around her, she must decide whether holding on to her life might mean letting go of everything that has ever mattered to her—and if that’s a choice she will even have the chance to make.

Based on the true experiences of her grandmother’s childhood in Holocaust-era Romania, award-winning author Elana K. Arnold weaves an unforgettable tale of love and loss in the darkest days of the twentieth century—and one young woman’s will to survive them.

About the Author

Elana K. Arnold is the award-winning author of many books for children and teens, including the Sydney Taylor and National Jewish Book Award winner The Blood Years, the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of, and the Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat. She is a member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA in writing for children and young adults program and lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at

Praise For…

"This book is many things: an examination of love and duty, a revelatory account of a Holocaust experience many won’t know, and a wrenching coming-of-age story. A moving glimpse into a past that is an all-too-possible vision of our future.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Arnold confronts tough subjects via unflinching depictions of war and compassionate renderings of intense familial drama. Searing." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Arnold’s gripping novel of sisterhood and survival amid both ­Soviet and Nazi occupation illuminates a little-explored part of the Holocaust in ­Romania. A must-read.” — School Library Journal (starred review)

"Extraordinary. This beautifully written novel juxtaposes passages of transcendent insight with terrible loss. An excellent choice for readers of Monica Hesse and Ruta Sepetys, and a first purchase for all teen collections." — Booklist (starred review)

"Arnold’s compelling and well-researched narrative is deeply personal, respectful, and redemptive; through story, she bears witness. Her depiction of Rieke’s experiences allows readers to truly feel how the horrors of war give the character many reasons to hate as well as to discover her enormous capacity to love." — Horn Book (starred review)

"Each page of this extra­or­di­nary sto­ry teems with nerve-tin­gling, edge-of-your-seat anx­i­ety. A riv­et­ing addi­tion to the Holocaust-lit­er­a­ture canon." — Jewish Book Council

The Blood Years gives us tragically underrepresented history viewed through a lens of love. Devastating and beautiful.” — Ruta Sepetys, New York Times-bestselling author of I Must Betray You

"Ferocious and delicate, brilliant and emotional, The Blood Years is a finely wrought portrait of love and betrayal and what it costs to survive the unimaginable." — Nina LaCour, Michael L. Printz Award-winning author of We Are Okay

"Once you meet Reike, you won’t ever forget her. Elana K. Arnold entwines history irresistibly with fiction to tell a story of great magnitude and emotional impact, centered on the bravery of a Jewish teenager in Nazi-occupied Romania and on universally human questions of romantic love, moral compromise and family loyalty." — E. Lockhart, New York Times-bestselling author of We Were Liars

?"A captivating, harrowing, uplifting story of a Romanian-Jewish teenager’s struggle not just to survive but also to live. By the time you reach the final page, each person in Rieke's family will feel like a member of your own. Emotionally stirring and ethically complex, this is Elana K. Arnold’s finest work to date.” — Dashka Slater, Stonewall Book Award-winning author of The 57 Bus

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062990853
ISBN-10: 0062990853
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 10th, 2023
Pages: 400
Language: English