Last Week on Inked Brownies

Review: Another Me by Eva Wiseman

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Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published September 13th, 2016 by Tundra Books

It’s been a while since I’ve finished this book, but as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m still not posting as often as I used to. Life is simply being too hectic. I do try to read as many posts from other people as I can, but my own reading life has sadly come to an almost halt. Which is damn shame because I was really looking forward to reading a tonne of books this month in the spirit of Halloween! Who knows, though, I might catch up again next week when I’m feeling slightly better.

Back to the book again!

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Set against the backdrop of plague-ravaged Europe, this spellbinding new novel from one of Canada’s foremost writers of historical fiction for young people will have readers racing to the electrifying climax.

Seventeen-year-old Natan has a safe and happy life in fourteenth-century Strasbourg, France. He works with his father in his rag trade, helps his mother around the house, and studies the Torah at night with his young brother, Shmuli. He’s even feeling the first stirrings of love with Elena, the daughter of the master draper who is his father’s best customer.

But something is rotten in the streets of Strasbourg. There is tension between the Jewish community and the rest of the citizens, and there is fear as the deadly plague sweeps through towns and cities nearby. When rumors begin to circulate that Jewish residents are contaminating the town’s well water to try to hasten the plague’s arrival in their city, Natan knows that there are dangerous days ahead. When he sees who really poisoned Strasbourg’s water, he is determined to speak the truth and save his people from the false accusations being made against them. But a moment of violence threatens to derail his plans and change his life in ways he could never have imagined.”

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This book depicts the persecution of the Jewish people in a different time period than we’re usually reading about: fourteenth-century Strasbourg. I always thought that it was Straßburg, and that it was a German town/region, but little did I know; it’s right on the border between France and Germany and belongs to France nowadays.

The first chapter starts in October 1338. We’re introduced to the heart-breaking story of the struggling Jews in the city. The Bubonic Plague (a.k.a. the Black Death) is spreading throughout Europe and the threat of it is felt in Strasbourg as well. Fingers are being pointed at the Jewish community. They’re being accused of poisoning the wells and spreading the disease in other nefarious ways. Ever since the murder of Jesus Christ (hey, I’m not swearing now!), Jews have been the scapegoat of society. They were money lenders or involved in other financial businesses, but that’s mostly because they were denied most other forms of decent jobs.

During the beginning of Another Me, we see that the actual culprits are the non-Jewish people who are dumping faeces (and even a living cat) into the city wells so they can blame it on the Jews later on. Natan, a 17-year-old Jewish boy, happens to be a witness of the crime. But he gets caught.

What happens next will amaze you! [insert clickbait ad] Since this would be a massive spoiler, I’ll stick to the following: I did not see it coming. The actual execution of the plot twist, however, was poorly done. This James Franco GIF covers it perfectly (and adds a little eye candy for the ladies).giphy (10).gif

It took me a while to recover from it and not in an “OMG THIS IS SO EXCITING!!“-kind of way. More like a “Mkay, so that’s weird“- kind of way.

Anywho, we follow the rest of the story in which Natan and his teen love, Elena (a non-Jew) have to protect the city from the nasty people who inhabit it and who are trying to take over the power while the Plague runs its course.

An interesting fact is that the Jews were indeed less affected by the Plague themselves (another reason for the angry mob to blame them for instigating the whole thing). This was very likely due to their religious rituals which included a high standard of hygiene: washing their hands and themselves several times a day, especially before eating. You can imagine that it made a difference with the infection rate compared to the people who didn’t do this.

So, Elena and Natan; a forbidden love, and star-crossed lovers. The love aspect wasn’t always entirely convincing but I guess that’s mostly due to the complicated situation later on.

I found it hard to rate this book. On one hand, I liked it and it was a gripping read for sure. The descriptions of how the Jewish people were being treated like cockroaches were heart-breaking, let alone the mentioning of the massacres that took place. The Nazi holocaust was horrible, but so was this one. I was very intrigued, learning about the Strasbourg massacre of which I knew relatively nothing beforehand.

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In this particular massacre (of which we read in the book as well) several hundred Jews were publicly burnt to death. Nobody did anything to stop this because no one knew who was responsible for protecting the Jews in the first place. So yes, reading about this definitely tickled my history buttons.

Then there were the cons I mentioned further up here. To add another one to that list: the book is technically even shorter than it already is because the whole prologue is literally repeated later on. I don’t mind returning to the scene in which everything started, as long as it’s a little different and told from a different point of view.

All in all, I liked the history aspect of the story. I was able to physically feel the fear of the Jewish people as well, so kudos for the author there! The storyline, even though predictable at times, occasionally had me on the edge of my seat. The characters were alright, if not a bit flat sometimes. Natan’s father was an idiot, for one.

TL; DR

I liked this book but wasn’t blown away by some of the executions of the story. If you want to read a darker Middle-Grade book about a different time period in which Jews were being persecuted en mass: this is definitely worth the read. There’s a religious paranormal aspect to it as well (dun DUN DUUUN!). Probably not recommended for children under 12, making this more suitable as a YA book instead of an MG one.

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Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion!

Links to the book:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
The Book Depository
Bol.com (Dutch Retailer)
Goodreads

About Anne (231 Articles)
Dutch book reviewer who reviews in English. Grammar nazis beware!! I like brownies. And chamomile tea.

68 Comments on Review: Another Me by Eva Wiseman

  1. Seeing you mention clickbait and religious paranormal aspect- I’m like- tell me what the twist was! 😀 Pity about the story-execution though!

    Great review and educating as well, I also was not aware of the Strasbourg massacre. How horrible! 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great premise, too bad the execution wasn’t better. And what is up with all of these MGs that are basically only fit for the very oldest of that reading group? It is almost like authors think if there isn’t a lot of romance it can’t be YA. Ha ha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! It’s like the age categories are shifting or something? Before you know it, there’ll be 50 Shades of Grey for toddlers… Or the romance thing you’re mentioning ;D. Which I HAVE heard from some authors actually!

      Like

  3. rashthedoctor // 06/10/2016 at 18:09 // Reply

    well i did some research , turns out Strasburg is located in Germany https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasburg,_Germany

    and Strasbourg is located in France https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg .

    But hey you had me confused for a moment there , anyways nice review . Hope your book reading slump goes away soon enough

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a whole different Strasburg there! While Strasbourg is also called StraBburg because it has been swapped back and forth between the German and the French. Fascinating! 😉 Thank you, I hope so too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well it sounds like there was a lot of lingering potential that may have gotten lost in the mix. I am still intrigued though. I have read a lot of books lately where there seems to be confusion regarding reading groups (age appropriateness). I have read books labeled MG that are definitely YA and YA that is terribly questionable. I wonder if parenting has made me tighten the reign.

    I feel you on not getting as much done. Hopefully we can both climb out of this slump soon or whatever it is ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review Anne and the new blog theme is really cool to. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In addition to your great review, I love the new look on your blog! 🙂 The girl dragging the wagons of books and the cake is brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! 🙂 It took me a whole lot of hours to get it this way, but totally worth it! Yay! I was worried people wouldn’t notice the cake (I added it later), but there ya go 😉 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that you read this: I haven’t, but I have Jewish family on my dad’s side, and the Holocaust was a tragedy that we must make sure never happens again!!
    Much love for your book choice, my little brownie girl!
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Like

  8. Great review! I didn’t know about the massacre before either.

    I also love the new blog theme!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hmmmm! I’m intrigued by Another me especially since it’s the first time I’ve heard of the Strasbourg massacre. Thanks for the Franco GIF, he sure is easy on the eyes LOL, but dislike a poorly executed plot twist. There was a time where I was obsessed with reading up on the persecution of Jewish people (back in grade school), totally missed this part of their history. Adding this one to my TBR, LOVE seeing more historical fiction in YA (also don’t see this as a middle grade book) & when you throw in a paranormal aspect to it all, we have a winner! Awesome review Anne 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, you’re welcome. Franco can light up any subject by just blinking ;). The persecution…yes, it’s been going on for centuries. Which is why I think it’s a bit weird to see how Israel is reacting towards the Palestinians now, but let’s not bring up any nasty politics over here [insert more James Franco pics] ;). Hahaha, YES!! We definitely still need more of those kind of books. I love reading Historical Fiction but sometimes the adult versions are just a bit too intense for me. Like that camping trip (gawd, I have to stop saying that!!). Thanks Lilly! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lmao!!! I getcha Anne smh 🙈 & agree, I’m also enjoying the historical fiction in YA lately. I had no idea this even took place but I am very interested, I love posts that I can walk away from gaining some wisdom. Thanks Anne, once again EPIC review! Keep those James Franco pics coming 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you! ❤ I feel the same way; it’s nice to read about sausages but there’s gotta be an educative aspect in things as well! 😉 Hahaha, for sure!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. That Franco GIF is perfect. This is my first time checking out your blog, and I love this review. You very clearly articulate what you enjoyed and what you didn’t; which is a struggle for many bloggers.
    I feel like I need to read this book purely because of the setting. I can’t think of another MG/YA historical fiction novel set during the 14th century. That alone makes it worth investing in. I’m curious to see how historically accurate it is…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad James was here to welcome you over then! 😉 Thank you!! I always try 🙂
      I’ve read one that was set in the 17th century, but this one was new to me as well! To be honest, I thought it was about WWII when I picked it up (I tend to forget the blurbs after requesting a book sometimes blushes). So when I started reading and realised it was medieval history, I was rubbing my hands in glee! Edit: I DID read another MG/YA book set in the 12th (close enough eh 😉 ) century but didn’t know if it was translated in English: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11129634-crusade-in-jeans. It’s about a children’s crusade that may or may not have happened…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This book sounds really interesting! I took a history of anti-Semitism class in university that was fascinating. People only really look to the Holocaust as the time we were horrific to the Jewish people but it’s been going on for millenia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Omg, millenia is the word I was looking for earlier! I used ‘ages’ instead. Me fail English. But yes, it’s been going on for a long time!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha well considering my Dutch is limited to “stroop waffles” I’d say you’re doing pretty well for yourself 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Gasp!! You know stroopwafels?! Have you ever tried them?:D If not, I can always send you some for Christmas 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • I looove stroopwafels! They’re delicious. When I was in Hungary one of my friends was from Belgium so she always had a stock of them in her pantry 😁

            Liked by 1 person

            • YES! I remember seeing something somewhere about you going to school in Hungary! Now that’s amazeballs! And good, good. The fresh ones are the best, but they rarely have those anywhere 😐

              Like

  12. Ooh this sounds like it will be up my street- I’m familiar with the history of this a little- so it would be interesting to read this with that in mind! Also, side note, since you mentioned your interest in history Strasbourg has flipped from being German to French so many times- especially in modern history! After Napoleon it was French, then the Germans took it back in the German Unification wars and then it was French again after WW1, only to become German during WW2, but then reverted to being French after WW2- so yeah it’s kind of been both! (Also the insert click bait cracked me up!)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. HISTORY! I WANT IT! Honestly, it sounds insanely fascinating even if you didn’t know how to rate it at first and it ‘only’ ended with 3 brownies. I don’t have anything intelligent to say except that I think I have to read this despite the negative points you mentioned. Also new design – I like it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. katelynnhillier // 18/10/2016 at 23:08 // Reply

    Wait, this is a middle grader book?! It seems far too dark and deep to be MG – I don’t know how I would have reacted to this if I had read it, to be honest. It sounds interesting and intriguing and thank you for the Frank GIF. slow clap I kept waiting for something magical to occur because the cover just screams magical beasties hiding beneath the city who were actually responsible for the plague, but you know what? It still sounds interesting without magic. Awesome review, and how do you find these books?!
    Also, I hope you and your family are doing well – I disappeared for a month and hope October is finding you better than the summer! ♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes…and I have no idea why? Apart from the MC being like 13 or something. No magical beasties but a very unpredictable paranormal shebang! 😉 Thank you! You know I’m a cover whore; it’s how I find most of my books. Shamelessly XD. Oh yes, I definitely noticed your absence! cries a little Were you hiding in a tent all summer long?! My dad just finished his 3rd round of chemo, but other than that, we’re stayin’ alive does John Travolta dance move. I hope your disappearance was only due to awesome things! ❤

      Like

      • katelynnhillier // 04/11/2016 at 21:51 // Reply

        I’m glad you’re all doing good – I hope the third tries the charm!
        Some awesome things, but mostly work… Which means my bank account has been restored and has been doing grabby hands at WoW for the past month. I’m going to try playing different games though because they’re cheaper and have better character customization (anything with character customization is automatically AWESOME).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Meh, he still has 2-5 more to go now but hoping for the best of course! Bwahaha, pulled IN! I saw Warcraft a couple of weeks ago btw. While I thought the movie in itself was pretty crappy, I LOOOOOOOVED seeing all the WoW scenery come to life <3. Karazhan, be still my heart! :’)

          Liked by 1 person

          • katelynnhillier // 09/11/2016 at 19:11 // Reply

            Best of luck, and hope all goes well!! ♥♥
            I didn’t follow much of the plot but I recognized the characters and I looooooved the graphics. There are certain movies I will always adore simply because they are just absolutely beautiful!!

            Liked by 1 person

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