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The Earth is Singing

Written by Vanessa Curtis

Key Stage 4 Historical Fiction

LoveReading View on The Earth is Singing

February 2015 Book of the Month  Of the many stories of the Holocaust, that of the Jews of Riga in Latvia is among the less well known. This book tells their story for young people, clearly and honestly, emphasising its importance and relevance to us all. Discovering that her great-grandmother had come from Riga in the early 1900s inspired Vanessa Curtis to find out what happened to those relatives who stayed: Jewish, their fate was the worst imaginable. She describes those terrible times through the eyes of 15 year old Hanna, a normal, lively teenager, with a handsome boyfriend. Readers will find it easy to identify with Hanna, which makes her account of what happens to her even more affecting. The story ends on a note of hope for Hanna, and is a powerful tribute to all the Latvian victims of the Nazis.  ~ Andrea Reece

The Earth is Singing is Vanessa’s first historical novel, which she was inspired to write when she discovered her own Jewish Latvian heritage.

Vanessa says: 'The story of the Jews of Riga is not widely known. After finding out that my great-grandmother was born there, but came over to England at the turn of the twentieth century, I began to wonder what happened to the Jewish friends and relatives that she had left behind. I visited the Riga Ghetto Museum and saw photographs of many of the thousands of Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis in 1941. Their eyes seemed to be telling me to relate their story, so that is what I did. I am delighted that Usborne have given me the opportunity to bring this story to a wider audience.'


The Earth is Singing Synopsis

My name is Hanna. I am 15. I am Latvian. I live with my mother and grandmother. My father is missing, taken by the Russians. I have a boyfriend and I'm training to be a dancer. But none of that is important any more. Because the Nazis have arrived, and I am a Jew. And as far as they are concerned, that is all that matters. This is my story.

Before the war, fifteen-year-old Hanna used to spend her days attending the ballet school in Riga and daydreaming about her boyfriend Uldis. But now her father is missing, taken away by Soviet Forces and no one knows what lies ahead.
When the Nazis invade, they enforce bewildering and brutal new rules on the Jews of Riga, and Hanna must fight to keep what is left of her family together as they are commanded to move into the ghetto with 30,000 others. Faced with the prospect of losing her mother and grandmother forever, Hanna is pushed to her limits in a horrifying world where the smallest choices could mean life or death.

Take a virtual tour of the Riga Ghetto, find information about the Holocaust, Nazi Germany and the Second World War, and discover more about Judaism with Usborne Quicklinks. Go to and enter the keywords “The Earth is Singing”.

The Earth is Singing Reader Reviews

Teens love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Cara Mcilroy, age 14 - 'An amazing book that I couldn't put down. It makes you think hard about what children had to endure just because they were Jews!'
  • Amy Laws, age 13 - 'This book is amazing, I really enjoyed it. The author really describes what it was like to live in a Nazi society, just before World War Two, as a Jew.'
  • Louisa Cunliffe, age 17 - 'A true treasure of a book that will stay with you long after you finish the final page...a must read.'
  • Sophia Ufton - 'Wow, not many books leave me speechless but this did.'
  • Farah Alam, age 19 - 'Overall, this book was really good and, has made me interested in reading more of the author's work.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'a remarkable well told story that both astonishes and is heartbreaking while being beautiful written...I recommend this book for any fans of Anne Frank. Unforgettable and touching!'
  • Delilah Acworth - 'The writing was brilliant and terrible in equal measures, it presented such a painful subject in quite a soothing way before completely tearing the reader apart with its harsh realities. A definite recommendation.'
  • Monisah Ali, age 16  - 'The Earth is Singing was a beautiful, empowering book with a storyline so powerful, it’s enough to make anyone emotional. It was so capturing, you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough! 
  • Nia, age 17 - 'Heartbreaking, emotional, stunning...This truly heart wrenching story was dealt with truth and respect, producing a stunning book that I strongly recommend everyone to read.'
  • Ieva Galinauskaite, age 14 - 'I really enjoyed reading about Hanna’s life and I would recommend this book to my friends.'
  • Phoebe - 'A truly amazing story and a book that I would definitely recommend. Thumbs up to Vanessa Curtis on magnificent masterpiece!'

Book Information

ISBN: 9781409577447
Publication date: 27th January 2015
Author: Vanessa Curtis
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Format: Paperback
Year Groups: Key Stage 4
Topics: Historical Fiction

About Vanessa Curtis

Vanessa Curtis originally trained as a pianist before becoming a freelance journalist and contributing articles to a range of magazines and newspapers. She is the author of two biographies on Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf's Women and The Hidden Houses of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell as well as a reviewer of fiction and non-fiction for broadsheet newspapers. She is the co-editor of the Virginia Woolf Bulletin, a literary magazine, and also works as a freelance literary consultant. She lives and works near Chichester Harbour.

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