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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Hey Kids Want Some Chocolate by author Melitta Strandberg


I have always taken special interest to read books that deal with stories of war victims who have lived to tell the tale. And when BookPleasures gave me the chance to review the book Hey Kids Want Some Chocolate: My Family's Journey to Freedom by author Melitta Strandberg and co-authored by George E. Pfautsch , I was more than excited to have a chance to go through this autobiographical tale of a girl and her family who survived the effects of war, that too World War II.

Please note this is a complimentary review copy sent by the author and not a purchased copy.


Hey Kids Want Some Chocolate describes the true story of the Mohr family, whose happy world was turned upside down with the events of World War II, which soon made them flee their home and begin a search for freedom that took them from Romania to Weimar, Germany.

Most of us are aware of the horrors of the Holocaust, but Melitta’s parents escaped the fate of the Jews by sheer luck, as her father was of German descent, while her mother was Hungarian. But that did not mean the family had it easy. As the effects of the ongoing war started to percolate nearer home, the family had to make a hasty decision of escaping towards freedom. Melitta’s mother was pregnant at the time with Melitta, and the trip was especially difficult, with two young children already in the family. Food and amenities were hard to find and there was the constant threat of bombing. There were times when the family had no food and the mother had to search the garbage bins in order to get some food for her children and the family. But one thing they all held on to was hope – hope that one day things would be better and they would all live happily and without fear.

Hospitals those days were also being used as experiment centres using newborns and young children as guinea pig, as part of Hitler’s obsession to create the ‘perfect’ race. Melitta was born in one such hospital in 1944 and taken away from her mother. Though the hospital tried to give her mother a different baby, she knew it was not her little girl. For the next six months, Melitta was separated from her parents, while the anxious and scared parents kept on their search for the newborn. The authorities even told them that the baby was dead, but they never gave up hope.

One cold winter night, Melitta’s mother heard a noise outside and saw a man running away. As she opened the door to see what was going on, she found a box outside, inside which lay her little baby. The family was finally together, but the situation around them was only getting worse. Time was crucial and they had to run in order to catch the last train out of East Germany before the Soviet Union sealed the border and left them to face the wrath of war and lose their freedom. The family did manage to board the train, thus beginning their journey towards Ausburg, West Germany, towards freedom.

The next pages describe the author’s accounts heard from her family of life after the escape, and she tells us about her parents and siblings and life in general afterwards.

The book is very short, 66 pages and I finished it in one short sitting. Though the author describes the book as a memoir, it is more a jotting down of events. As a reader, I would have loved to have more detailing of events, as well as some more build-up to the various characters. The story definitely needs a lot of editing and re-working. If you are not much into books, especially books that are a detailing of events, you may soon lose interest. The author has shared details about events she has heard from her parents and what little her siblings remember. She herself was very young at that time, and it is clear from the book that she has no first-hand experience of whatever she has written here. Though I did get an account of what happened to families during these times, I was left asking for much more.

Details about the book:
Title: Hey Kids Want Some Chocolate?
Author: Melitta Strandberg
ISBN: 978-1-4567-1793-3
Publisher: Author House
No. of Pages: 66

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Debolina Raja Gupta is an international book reviewer for BookPleasures.com


- Debolina Raja Gupta