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I Am Sasha

2019 - Shortlisted

Shortlisted

Judges' comments 

I Am Sasha, a compelling novel for young adults, explores a story of survival and hope that begins in occupied Poland in 1942 and follows its characters to Australia after the war.  Based on the experiences of Anita’s father and grandmother, the novel tells the remarkable story of Jewish Sasha, whose mother dressed him as a girl during the war to avoid identification by Nazi authorities looking for circumcised boys to send to the camps.

Written in accessible and punchy prose, the historical novel brings both the desperation of these figures to life, as well as the more mundane anxieties and uncertainties that might confront a young teenager being forced to cross-dress to survive. The novel convincingly tells the story from Sasha’s perspective, which upends our expected hierarchy of problems and concerns as we imagine what this experience might have felt like for a young teenager at the height of the Holocaust.