Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy

For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Random House, 2003   ISBN: 978-0440418313

For thirteen year old Suzanne David life is very simple. She is going to be an opera singer when she grows up and until then she is going to work hard towards that goal. She is quite happy with her life on the whole, even though she does not like the fact that France is at war with Germany. But to be honest one does not really feel that a war is going on. At least that is how it is until that fateful day in May of 1940. On that day the Germans bomb a beach in Suzanne’s town of Cherbourg and Suzanne sees a dear friend die right before her eyes. Suddenly, in just a moment, everything changes.

Soon after this event the real war comes to France and Cherbourg. Almost before it has begun it is over and France is under occupation. The David’s home is requisitioned by the Germans and Suzanne, her mother, her father, and her two brothers have to make do in a small apartment.

When she is fifteen Suzanne leaves her convent school and begins to train fulltime towards becoming an opera singer. She is delighted when her teacher finally agrees that Suzanne is ready to audition at the opera house and is even more delighted when she in given the lead part in her first opera.

Soon Suzanne and her teacher are traveling to and fro around Normandy to performances and classes and Suzanne is having the time of her life. Then Suzanne hurts her shoulder and she goes to visit Dr. Leclerc. The doctor is greatly impressed when he sees that Suzanne does not react at all as he operates on her without the use of an aesthetic or a painkiller. He asks her to become a courier for the Resistance. Her youth and her position in the opera gives her a unique opportunity to help the Resistance in this capacity. Suzanne agrees.

And so Suzanne’s double life begins. On the one hand she is a confident young woman who charms the world with her voice, and on the other she is always worried young woman who takes messages from Dr. Leclerc to nameless people. Always fearful that she will be discovered, Suzanne prays always to “be strong” and in the end this is what she is.

Based on the true story of Suzanne David Hall, this inspiring book will give young readers a very real sense of how frightening it was to live in France during the German occupation of WWII. Of course this was even more so in the case of Suzanne who took on the responsibility of being a spy, even though she knew she could be shot if she was caught.

Wonderfully written with superb pacing and excellent historical detail, this is a book which brings the history of WWII to life.