Interview by Alaina Leary
Book description: SENIOR YEAR. When an assignment given by a favorite teacher instructs a group of students to argue for the Final Solution, a euphemism used to describe the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people, Logan March and Cade Crawford are horrified. Their teacher cannot seriously expect anyone to complete an assignment that fuels intolerance and discrimination. Logan and Cade decide they must take a stand. As the school administration addressed the teens’ refusal to participate in the appalling debate, the student body, their parents, and the larger community are forced to face the issue, as well. The situation explodes, and acrimony and anger result. What does it take for tolerance, justice, and love to prevail?
Instead of a review, we are posting an interview with the author of The Assignment, Liza Wiemer, by Alaina Leary at Diverse Books.org.
What did you learn from the research you did about racist and anti-Semitic school assignments?
School assignments exploring important, complicated issues are a crucial part of education. They foster critical thinking and discussion. However, damaging, misguided, and thoughtless assignments dealing with those tough issues can be presented in racist or anti-Semitic ways and are much more common than people would think. Once news got out that I was writing this novel, people messaged me or told me directly about similar harmful assignments — some successfully challenged, some that were not. Those who remained silent did so for several reasons: fear of confrontation, retaliation, or being ostracized. They didn’t want to cause trouble or get a teacher in trouble. Students didn’t want to be seen as tattletales or complainers. But no one should ever have to defend the indefensible. No one should have to justify the unjustifiable. Speaking up is hard. I heard from many who didn’t confront the issue that they regretted staying silent. We need to foster environments where upstanders are respected and feel safe to confront hatred and injustice. That’s why I feel having a novel like this is critical. It promotes discussion. It allows readers to contemplate what they would do if they found themselves in a similar situation and shows that courage comes from within. Continue reading.
The Assignment by Liza Wiemer
Published by Random House Children's Books on August 31, 2021
Genres: Education, Jewish, War, World History
Reading Level: High School
Review Source: Diverse Books.org
Publisher's Synopsis: A SYDNEY TAYLOR NOTABLE BOOK
Inspired by a real-life incident, this riveting novel explores discrimination and antisemitism and reveals their dangerous impact.
Would you defend the indefensible?
That's what seniors Logan March and Cade Crawford are asked to do when a favorite teacher instructs a group of students to argue for the Final Solution — the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people.
Logan and Cade decide they must take a stand, and soon their actions draw the attention of the student body, the administration, and the community at large. But not everyone feels as Logan and Cade do — after all, isn't a school debate just a school debate? It's not long before the situation explodes, and acrimony and anger result.
Based on true events, The Assignment asks: What does it take for tolerance, justice, and love to prevail?
"An important look at a critical moment in history through a modern lens showcasing the power of student activism." — SLJ