Kid’s Book Review: When The World Was Ours

Kid’s Book Review: When The World Was Ours

About the Book and Author

Inspired by a true story this is a powerful and thought-provoking novel for readers aged 14 years + about three children during the Second World War whose fates remain closely intertwined, even when circumstances dictate that their close friendship is torn apart.

The story starts in Vienna, 1936, where 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 soon they will be separated by the decisions that that their parents are making for their families’ futures.

As the children’s lives take different courses across Europe – to Germany, England, Prague and Poland – the reader is left wondering if they will ever be reunited, and if their friendship will survive because each character’s wartime experience is very different…


When The World Was Ours front cover
Liz Kessler author

Liz Kessler has already written over twenty books for children and young adults. Most of these are middle grade books featuring mermaids, fairies, time travel, and superpowers. You can find our more about her writing by visiting her website.


Book Review

This book feels personal

This is a story about three children in a fairground in 1936 and how their lives progressed from that moment throughout the events of the Second World War. I will say no more than that because I think this is a book that everyone should read at least once in their life. However, be warned, it is not all lighthearted, as a story about the Holocaust could and should never be.

Liz Kessler does an incredible job of describing the three stories of Leo, Max and Elsa. She manages to follow through on the innocence of the children throughout the book without down playing the events of the time. Through her writing it was easy to picture Europe during the Second World War through the eyes of innocent children who lived through it.

As much as it is cliche to say it I could not put this book down. I read it within the space of a few hours, then I read it again. I would suggest that this book definitely becomes one for your book shelf and after reading it you give the story time to resonate.

The most powerful thing for me was knowing that this was inspired by a true story; it is not told in the way that you see some documentaries with anonymous statistics and black and white action clips. This book feels personal. Probably because it is personal to the author and that gives the writing a very special quality indeed.

I think my favourite part of this book is the end of the 1944 section. Though it’s not the happiest of points in the plot and I admit it did make me cry, it is truly beautifully written.

I think the most amazing thing about this book is the subliminal message of the story, that reminds us of the impact we can have on another  persons life, even if all you do was offer them a piece of cake or show some other kindness.

If you would would like to buy a copy of the book we invite you to order it from your local independent book shop.

Or, you can shop on-line and support our Kids Reviews page by sourcing your discounted book via this link

Please Buy Here

Alternatively, we suggest that you visit your local library and request to borrow a copy from a friendly librarian.

Whichever you choose we hope you enjoy being part of your unique reading community – happy reading everyone!

Reviewer Profile

Junior Reviewer Ella
  • Name: Ella
  • Age: 16 years
  • Likes: writing, drama, Rufus (my dog)
  • Dislikes: tomatoes and sports
  • Favourite Book: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
  • Favourite Film: Thor: Ragnarock
  • Favourite Song: Colors by Halsey