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When The World Was Ours

Written by Liz Kessler

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When The World Was Ours Review

Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 13+ readers Featured Books for Young Adults Historical Fiction

A powerful and heart-breaking novel about three childhood friends living during the Second World War whose fates are closely intertwined, even when their lives take very different courses

Chosen as our Guest Editor, Francesca Simon's Book of the Month

An extraordinary, powerful, and important book, based on the true story of how Liz Kessler’s father escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe thanks to a British couple his family had met once. But what elevates this book about three friends and their different fates in World War Two is the story of Max, the nice, ordinary boy who gradually becomes seduced into hatred and prejudice. The ringing question, ‘What would I do under these circumstances?’ echoes on every page. ~ Francesca Simon



When The World Was Ours Synopsis

Three friends. Two sides. One memory. Vienna. 1936.

Three young friends - Leo, Elsa and Max - spend a perfect day together, unaware that around them Europe is descending into a growing darkness, and that events soon mean that they will be cruelly ripped apart from each other. With their lives taking them across Europe - to Germany, England, Prague and Poland - will they ever find their way back to each other? Will they want to?

Inspired by a true story, When the World was Ours is an extraordinary novel that is as powerful as it is heartbreaking, and shows how the bonds of love, family and friendship allow glimmers of hope to flourish, even in the most hopeless of times. 

When The World Was Ours Press Reviews

'When The World Was Ours is Liz's masterpiece . . . an instant classic' Anthony McGowan, winner of the 2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781471196812
Publication date: 11/11/2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781471196805
Publication date: 21/01/2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781471196805
Publication date: 21st January 2021
Author: Liz Kessler
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster Ltd
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 320 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Historical Fiction

About Liz Kessler

Liz Kessler lives in rural Cheshire. She has worked as a teacher and journalist and has an MA in Creative Writing.  

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