Who can you turn to for help, when your only choice is between two evils?
In 1941, Estonia is under the iron rule of the Soviet Union. Fifteen-year-old Madli is struggling to understand why she can’t raise her country’s flag, why soldiers are waiting at every corner, and why her father was taken away in the middle of the night. Her annual vacation to Hiiumaa Island for the Midsummer celebration is the one thing she has to look forward to. But in the midst of the celebrations, the Nazis invade the Soviet Union, and are on a path that will take them through Estonia. Madli is forced to decide whether she’d rather live under the evil regime she knows, or help another evil regime in hopes her father will be freed and her nation’s story heard.
On a personal note, My mother grew up on the island of Hiiumaa, Estonia. When I was growing up in Toronto, I thought that growing up in a remote corner of the Baltic was dull and boring, but the Eastern front of WWII actually passed through her farm twice. Once in 1941 when the Nazis advanced during Operation Barbarossa, and then again in 1944 when the Soviets drove the Nazis out, and the Iron Curtain descended over the Baltics for over 50 years. The Darkest Corner of the World is set on Hiiumaa, and capture actual events in 1941.
“Tamberg provides rich opportunities for discussion of personal and political choice, compromise, loyalty, nationhood, ends vs. means, and of extreme circumstances creating possibilities that would be unthinkable otherwise.”
Canadian Children’s Book News. Best Books for Kids and Teens.
“As historical fiction is meant to, Madli’s struggle makes Estonia during World War II seem immediate and relatable. Her everyday chores, crushes on boys and daydreams make this a perfect slice-of-life story… this is a good pick for historical fiction collections, particularly since it is an often overlooked piece of history.”
Resource Links: Best of 2012 List (Rated “E” Excellent)
“In the tradition of well-written historical fiction, Tamberg has managed to strike a healthy balance between fact and fiction throughout… A worthy addition to the historical fiction collection of any library.“
CM Magazine: Highly recommended
“The Darkest Corner of the World is a worthwhile read for its glimpse into an ignored period of history and its examination of complex moral issues.”
The Quill and Quire
Teacher Discussion Guide available here.