The Assignment by Liza M. Wiemer

For students, speaking out against any injustice, especially when adults are involved, can be a formidable task. But it’s crucial, life-changing, and perhaps even life saving.

– Liza M. Wiemer

Review:

The Assignment by Liza M. Wiemer is one of the most underrated and underhyped books of 2020, or of this decade so far. It’s a must read for all teachers, especially those who teach the Holocaust or literature inspired by it.

Logan and Cade’s History of World Government class has one of the best teachers in the country, or so they think. He was Maryland’s teacher of the year before coming to their school. He makes history come to life and despises textbook readings and multiple choice tests. His assignments push students to learn the why behind history and to understand how it impacts our lives today.

So when he gives an assignment for students to reenact the Wannsee Conference from the point of view of the Nazi SS Officers and to support what they feel is the best strategy for the murder and disposal of Europe’s 11 million Jews, Logan and Cade are left shell-shocked and devastated.

Immediately they realize there is no debate about murder, no debate about the Holocaust. They may not be Jewish, but they don’t have to be to know this assignment is morally bankrupt.

So they decide to stop the debate and try to get the assignment cancelled in favor of more appropriate learning and discussion.

This is a book about standing up for what is right, about friendship, what ties us together as humans, and about the need for both safety and identity – how it can tear a person apart to have to choose one over the other.

Each character in this book, from the heroes to the villains, from the side characters to the main duo are well rounded and realistic, full of flaws and lovable aspects alike. The book shows the ease with which hatred can slide into our lives and flourish and the cost and ultimate worth of standing up to that hate.

All teachers should read this book. All high school students should read this book. I can’t image it as anything other than a modern classic in the making. I can’t wait to share this one with my students.

Here is what I hope you, dear reader, know: in darkness, be the light. Let yours be the one that illuminates the world, guided by an unwavering moral compass, courage, compassion, and love. Make your home, your school, your community a place where humanKIND is welcome.”

– Liza M. Wiemer

Pros:

  • The book is about a timely topic from the perspective of American students.
  • The book discusses fractional and hidden family identities as a response to generational trauma.
  • The book has offers a very complex understanding of how good people commit terrible mistakes, as well as how good people succumb to a mob mentality when wanting to punish others for their mistakes.

Cons:

  • The teacher’s actions are a tiny bit over the top. I wish I could say they were unbelievable, but they’re not. People tend to buckle down.

Rating:

  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This much I’ve learned, and I want to shout it to the world instead of in my head: THERE ARE NO DIFFERENT RACES OF HUMAN BEINGS! The idea of inferior or superior races is a human construct. It’s made up. It’s false. It’s a lie! But people use this bull every day to justify hate.

– Liza M. Wiemer

Recommended For:

  • Those wanting a nuanced look at the lasting pain of the Holocaust.
  • Those wanting a look at the do’s and don’ts of teaching

Books to Read if You Loved The Assignment:

Let’s Discuss! (Pick a question and drop a comment with your reply!)

  • What can we do to better hype books that are wonderful but not as well known?
  • How can teachers explain difficult and painful events in ways that honor the pain, do not lessen it, and also do not create more pain?

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