77 pages 2 hours read

Alan Gratz

Prisoner B-3087

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2013

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Important Quotes

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“If I had known what the next six years of my life were going to be like, I would have eaten more.” 

(Chapter 1, Page 2)

The narrator positions the narrative as a self-reflective story that’s told in the present tense while looking back on past events. This opening line foreshadows the tragic circumstances that will unfold throughout the upcoming chapters.

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“I had always thought it would be fun to have a brother or a sister. That is, until I spent a few months living in my little apartment with five other kids.” 

(Chapter 4, Page 18)

As Yanek’s neighborhood is turned into a Jewish ghetto by the Nazi soldiers, multiple families are forced to live together in tiny apartments. This moment shows how the circumstances are changing Yanek’s character. Where once he idealized the thought of having a sibling, being forced to live crammed together with other children changes his mind. This is just the beginning of how the war changes even the most subtle parts of his personality.

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“I was old enough that my parents couldn’t keep me inside all the time now. I took my mother’s place in line for our rations, and sometimes my father and I were pulled off the street to work outside the ghetto.” 

(Chapter 6, Page 37)

Yanek’s coming-of-age story occurs alongside the increasingly violent and oppressive Nazi regime that’s overtaken Poland. He grows older and desires independence, but the deadly circumstances unfolding around him limit his ability to seek the self-sufficiency that comes with adulthood. He is forced to work without pay instead of hanging out with friends and going to school, and there is always the constant fear of being murdered by the Nazis for no reason other than being Jewish.