Milkweed is a historical fiction novel by Jerry Spinelli. It is centered around Misha who grows up in Warsaw, Poland as the Holocaust is in full fledge. Misha struggles in his young life, as an orphaned Jew who steals and struggles to survive. Throughout the book Misha exemplifies persistence and perseverance in never giving up on life or the setbacks life can hand you that are outside of your control. This is a story of a man reflecting back on his difficult life he was dealt.
Despite having no family, no belongings, and no true sense of identity, Misha is still able to love and care for others. He only steals and pick pockets others because it is necessary to his survival. Although he originally steals from Janina and her family, they take him in and treat Misha as their son. He loves and cares for them in return and continues to care for Janina, even after she is cruelly taken away from him after being shot by the Nazis.
Even into his old life, Misha thinks fondly of Janina, remembering how he truly felt he was a part of her family and remembering her with kindness. He gives his granddaughter Janina for a middle name without hesitating when asked by his daughter. Although Misha begins the novel with no real sense of self or identity, by the end of the book and middle age for him, he finds his spot in the world, living peacefully and being sure of himself. After the War, Misha moves to America, where he begins giving speeches on street corners telling stories of all that he endured during the War.
I think he may have told these stories both to make sense of what had happened to him and also to make others aware of exactly how awful the Nazi party was. He is able to make peace his past and leads a peaceful, happy life working at a grocery store and spending time with his daughter and granddaughter. Misha shows us all that despite what setbacks people have encountered and how unfair life may have been to them, with hard work, perseverance, and an optimistic outlook on life, you may not be able to control your destiny, but you are able to control how you react to it.
Misha just so happens to take life as it comes and celebrate his victories. He chooses not to dwell on his orphaned life, poverty, the war, or the fact that his pregnant life left him and rejoice in the fact that he once had loved ones and now has a healthy daughter and granddaughter. After time, Misha accepted his past and quirky habits he acquired during the war and was able to reconcile with them.
Courtney from Study Moose
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