Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 2 Novel in Verse


Product Details

$16.99  $15.80
Publish Date
5.51 X 8.43 X 1.1 inches | 0.75 pounds

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About the Author

Dana VanderLugt is a writer and teacher who believes firmly in the power of stories to change hearts and minds. She descends from a family of apple growers in Michigan, where she lives with her husband, three sons, and a spoiled golden retriever. And yes, she makes a mean apple pie.


Enemies in the Orchard is a fast-paced, lyrical novel perfect for upper middle-grade readers that offers a new perspective into what it means to be an enemy and how we see and can also forgive others.--Jenni L. Walsh, author of I Am Defiance
Enemies in the Orchard is simply unputdownable. Rarely have I read a book that uses alternating points of view to such great effect. Claire and Karl are fully complex and compelling characters. The apple orchards are described in such detail, they become a character in and of themselves. As I read, I could see, smell, and taste apple butter, apple cider, apple pie. The story, based on the author's own family history, is meticulously researched, and the poetry is simply gorgeous. Full of vivid imagery, profound symbolism, and stunning metaphor, this magnificent historic novel in verse about a little-known aspect of World War II has the word 'award-winner' written all over it. It deserves as wide an audience as possible.--Lesléa Newman, author, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard and Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story
Enemies in the Orchard is unflinching in its portrayal of loss and grief during wartime. Its narrative is surprising, its characters complex, and its focus on forgiveness and love, and the meaning of the good and full life, is honest and heady. Plan to read this in one sitting--that's how gripping this story is.--Gary Schmidt, Newbery Honor-winning author
A compelling and beautiful journey of history, truth, and courage, with connective and heart-stirring imagery, Enemies in the Orchard is a novel in verse that readers of all ages will hold in their hearts.--Chris Baron, author of All of Me, The Magical Imperfect, and The Gray
A stellar example of utilizing point of view to great effect and the power of listening to new perspectives. A great classroom conversation starter on discerning what is true and seeing humans in a world often full of misinformation.--Meg Eden Kuyatt, author of Good Different
Beautifully crafted verse that moves the reader swiftly through a strong story, and a topic from our history that has much to say to us today. An exciting launch of a new author.--Marion Dane Bauer, Newbery Honor-winning author
Dana VanderLugt brings to life the human side of the Second World War as it played out in the lives of two young people in the orchard country of West Michigan. Imaginative, closely observed, timely, and hopeful.--Gregory Sumner, historian and author of Michigan POW Camps in WWII
Dana VanderLugt's Enemies in the Orchard is a poignant peek at a buried piece of World War II history. This debut novel, rich in emotion, is centered around the universal story of friendship. I could not put it down. Readers, don't get too comfortable with the palpable setting and beautiful poetry, because this story is full of unexpected and gut-wrenching twists that will remind you there are no winners when it comes to war.--Skila Brown, author of Caminar and To Stay Alive
Perfectly conjuring the time and place, Enemies in the Orchard is a stunning debut populated by characters who will stay with you forever. Claire, in particular, is the kind of endearing, complex character who will have you rooting for her until the last page. Written in mesmerizing and propulsive verse, this timely story will make readers think deeply about empathy, community, and the ways we are more similar than we are different, no matter where we are from. I loved every word.'--Silas House, coauthor of Same Sun Here
Seldom do we discover a book both timely and timeless. Dana VanderLugt's incomparable Enemies in the Orchard is not only such a work, but also evidence of the improbable--the formulation of friendship between those commonly perceived not only as incompatible but as given enemies. I think of Huck and Jim: timely/timeless. Thanks to VanderLugt's courageous heart and luminous writing, we will never forget the understanding forged across the ubiquity of hate by thirteen-year-old Claire--who has lost her rambunctious early teens to working the family orchards--and Karl, a young prisoner of war hired to help, who reveals the inconceivable: a German soldier who holds a humane heart. We follow unexpected kindnesses, misunderstandings, and heartaches, while we daily walk and work with them. Timely? One has to be living in isolation not to recognize such. Timeless? How can kindness ever outwear its need? Based on a true story, VanderLugt's ability to combine exhausting research with an abundantly empathic imagination is astonishing. In the words of Claire: 'Germans .../ will soon invade Daddy's trees, ' and of Karl: 'I want to .../ show this woman and child/ my empty hands.' Be prepared to 'Never forget.'--Jack Ridl, author of Practicing to Walk Like a Heron, co-recipient of the Best Poetry Book by Foreword Reviews, and All At Once, to be published in 2024
The power of a novel in verse lies in its economy of words, a lyrical telling of a story distilled to its very essence, and Dana VanderLugt has done this masterfully in her Enemies in the Orchard. Told in two voices on opposing sides of the page--that of Claire, an impressionable, young teen girl working in her family's orchard on the home front, and that of Karl, a young German POW soldier forced to fight in a war he's not sure about--the novel covers a lesser-known aspect of WWII. Enemies in the Orchard, with its budding friendship amid the harsh realities and truths of war, is a story not only for middle-grade readers, but one for readers of all ages.--Edith Hemingway, author of Road to Tater Hill and That Smudge of Smoke
In a Michigan apple orchard in 1944, a German soldier and an American girl reflect on wartime life. Claire DeBoer, a careworn 13-year-old Dutch American girl, bears countless responsibilities on her family's farm and dreams of one day becoming a nurse. Karl Hartmann, a teenage German prisoner of war, arrives in Michigan to do agricultural work through a federal program. The book opens with atmospheric poems introducing each protagonist, effectively using George Ella Lyon's 'Where I'm From' format. This reflective verse novel alternates their perspectives as it explores their intersecting lives. Claire's brother is fighting in Europe, so the dissonance of enemy soldiers on her farm feels like a cruel joke. Karl is awakening to the immensity of Nazi atrocities and anti-American propaganda, though some of his more nationalistic fellow prisoners are determined to make him suffer. Calm and dread intertwine: The soothing harvest-time rhythms intermingle with the ever-present threat of tremendous loss. Karl and Claire, having lost their youths to a global conflict, discover a tenuous friendship...VanderLugt's reflections on war's personal toll and the tensions of having enemy troops working in America offer opportunities for readers to consider matters from many angles. An author's note describes her inspiration--the German POWs who worked in her own grandfather's fruit orchards during the war. An emotionally layered vision of a difficult moment in history.--Kirkus Reviews, August 2023 (Verse historical fiction. 10-14)
Via contemplative first-person narratives and occasional adapted news articles, VanderLugt intimately limns each character's experiences alongside those of a sympathetically drawn secondary cast ... Rich in atmospheric and emotional detail.--Publishers Weekly