Rating: High Five
Who I'd Recommend to: Fans of Fans of Snow Treasure, Once, Number the Stars, and Each Little Bird That Sings.
Synopsis (provided by the publisher):
Set in Norway during World War II, Bjorn’s Gift continues the adventures of Mari, a young Norwegian girl who faces growing hardships and dangers in her small village in a western fjord. German occupation troops and local Nazi supporters move closer to her family’s daily life, and her classmate Leif becomes active in
the Norwegian Nazi youth party. Mari struggles to live up to her brother Bjorn’s faith in her, as she becomes more involved in risky resistance activities, trusting only her family and a few close friends. Across Norway, oppressive laws are imposed in the months from Fall 1941 to the early 1943, with dire local consequences. Difficult decisions force Mari to admit that many things in life are not easily sorted into good or bad, and she begins to wonder if Hitler will ever be defeated and . . . whether the occupation of Norway will ever end.
I won't say much about the writing, because, although it did become more descriptive (something I enjoyed), it really didn't vary much from the writing in ODIN'S PROMISE. In fact, this review will mainly be devoted to characters, of which there were some of my favorite I've come across in children's literature yet. Firstly, Mari sees even more growth in this sequel, a wonderful evolution to watch. She is really such a likable and admirable character, one that I can easily see younger kids looking up to. Secondly, Leif, a character that is hardly mentioned at all in ODIN'S PROMISE, is much more prominent in this story. Leif (a maybe-Nazi Sympathizer)is a boy who never fails to surprise me. He brings such intrigue and a certain sense of mystery to this book, in such a way that I just couldn't put BJORN'S GIFT down. I also really enjoyed the overall storyline - I loved getting to learn more about the Resistance in Norway.
Overall, an exciting, suspenseful, informative sequel that kept me reading all night long!