Maus I

Art Spielelman

In this graphic novel/biography, Artie learns and tells his father Vladek's story, his life as a Jewish teen and young man in Poland, shortly before and then during WWII. Though they are rendered as mice, all of the characters in this book are deeply human.  Artie and Vladek clearly have a troubled relationship and although you admire Vladek's bravery and practicality during the war, you sometimes dislike the grumpy old man that he has become. Although the book portrays, clearly, honestly, heart-breakingly, the hardships faced by Jews in German-occupied Poland, moments from the present day also depicts the lingering effects of the war on its "lucky" survivors.  Artie's mom's suicide, long after she was liberated from a concentration camp and had immigrated to America, highlights just how hard Vladek's history, and present, are. There are some brutal scenes in the book.  They are not graphic, but they are violent and shocking.  This reads as a no-holds-barred portrayal of Jewish life under a Nazi regime.  This book ends as Vladek and Anja (Artie's mother), who have been in hiding, are being transported to Auschwitz.  Their story continues in Maus II.

Reading Level: 
Heads up - topics in this book that might require further discussion: 
Death of a parent/close family member
Suicide/ Attempted suicide
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