Jerry Spinelli
Contributed by Eliz Capito
Jerry Spinelli
Year Published
Young Adult
About the Title

Milkweed, written by Jerry Spinelli, is a young adult fiction novel published in 2003. It takes place in Warsaw, Poland, and the main character is mainly called Misha Pilsudski. Spinelli describes this Misha’s life during the Holocaust, where he has to fight to survive and try to overcome the trauma caused by the war.

Misha is a Jew, and he makes friends with a girl named Janina, also a Jew. Both are taken to the ghetto, where they are forced to live on nothing. Thus, Misha and Janina are forced to steal to be able to survive. When they are told they are being moved, an old man says they are being killed. Janina and Misha are told by Janina’s father to run away while going out to steal. Janina is intent on going back to find her father, and she is captured on the train, but Misha escapes. He moves to the USA, where he gets married to a woman named Vivian. She is upset by his strange ways and leaves him. He digs up the milkweed plant and plants it in his own backyard, the title of this book.

This is a book that focuses on the themes of endurance and survival, Misha and Janina work hard to survive in these harsh conditions against the Nazis. Moreover, Milkweed shows how even after hard times, a person can still be impacted by the ways he acts. Spinelli describes the problems of an innocent young boy who survives the Holocaust.

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