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WHC Presents: Liza Wiemer

The Assignment

Sunday March 6, 2022 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm


Liza Wiemer headshot over book cover of The Assignment
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WHC’s Confirmation class welcomes author Liza Wiemer for an important conversation about her YA novel, The Assignment. This event is aimed primarily at teens and is part of WHC’s Confirmation programming, but anyone in the community is welcome to attend.


When pop­u­lar high school teacher Mr. Bart­ley assigns a con­tro­ver­sial project ask­ing his stu­dents to debate the pros and cons of Hitler’s Final Solu­tion, with half the class defend­ing the Nazi point of view, the town erupts in con­fu­sion and shock. Seniors Logan and Cade can­not accept Mr. Bart­ley’s con­tention that the debate is a legit­i­mate edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence despite his argu­ment that it is impor­tant to exam­ine all sides of an issue, any issue. The Holo­caust, they feel, is not debat­able; there sim­ply aren’t two jus­ti­fi­able points of view to dis­cuss when the mur­der­ous Nazi regime is the sub­ject at hand.

Col­lege accep­tances, aca­d­e­m­ic awards, and edu­ca­tion­al, fam­i­ly, and social pres­sures make Logan and Cade hes­i­tate to pub­licly protest this assign­ment, espe­cial­ly when they find out that the prin­ci­pal sup­ports the teacher, bring­ing his con­sid­er­able forces to bear in pres­sur­ing them to drop the issue. Once the teens have made their stand, how­ev­er, pre­vi­ous­ly unseen fis­sures in the com­mu­ni­ty begin to widen and anti­semitism grad­u­al­ly emerges. Nei­ther Logan nor Cade per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fy as Jews, but they have a fine­ly honed sense of what is right and what is wrong and they are absolute­ly sure that this assign­ment falls under the cat­e­go­ry of wrong. In spite of their pre­vi­ous­ly high regard for their teacher, they know this assign­ment is inap­pro­pri­ate and they must object; their con­sciences demand it.

Fam­i­ly ties, close friend­ships, social accep­tance, fear of per­son­al fall-out, and a deep respect for learn­ing peri­od­i­cal­ly shake their resolve, but they per­sist in protest­ing this appalling assign­ment. Sup­port­ive of one anoth­er, the teens dig deeply into their souls and find the courage to pro­ceed. Fam­i­ly secrets emerge under the pres­sure they face, mak­ing their fight feel even more sig­nif­i­cant and personal.

Based on an actu­al event, this grip­ping sto­ry will have a last­ing impact, reach­ing and, per­haps, chang­ing the read­er. The char­ac­ters and set­ting are vivid­ly drawn, a touch of romance adds some spice, and the unfold­ing events feel both real­is­tic and plau­si­ble. There is a pal­pa­ble sense of dis­com­fort run­ning through the nar­ra­tive, and it is clear that there are impor­tant lessons here yet the sto­ry is sus­pense­ful rather than preachy or didactic.

Rem­i­nis­cent of The Wave, this nov­el begs to be read and dis­cussed in a group, and would be a per­fect com­ple­ment to a class­room unit on his­to­ry, ethics, or social struc­ture. This high­ly rec­om­mend­ed book includes an intro­duc­to­ry note by the author which dis­cuss­es the real-life inci­dent on which the nov­el is based and gives impor­tant back­ground and context.

About the Author

Liza Wiemer is an award-win­ning edu­ca­tor. Her sec­ond young adult nov­el, The Assign­ment, received the Syd­ney Tay­lor Notable Award, YAL­SA Best Fic­tion for YA nom­i­nee, and oth­er hon­ors. She’s the author of two adult non-fic­tion books and short sto­ries for The New York Times best-sell­er Small Mir­a­cles series. A UW-Madi­son grad­u­ate, Liza has two mar­ried sons and lives in Mil­wau­kee, Wis­con­sin with her husband.

Click here to purchase this book through WHC’s Mitzvah Mall




Sunday, March 6


5:30 pm - 6:30 pm




Adult Ed, Lecture, Religious School, WHECTY


Rabbi Susan N. Shankman