Article Title

The Extra


Tessa McMillan


Dependable, Young Adult, Kathryn Lasky, Romanies, Actors, Concentration Camps, Historical Fiction, World War II

Document Type

Book Review


Like many Gypsy families, Lilo Friwald and her parents are shipped off to concentration camps where they encounter the horrors of the Third Reich. Separated from Lilo’s father, Lilo and her mother glean survival skills from Lilo’s new friend, Django. But their camp life is disrupted when Hitler’s favorite director, Leni Riefenstahl, visits Lilo’s camp. Leni is seeking extras for a movie she is making on the Reich’s dollar. Lilo, her mother, Django, and several other Gypsies are selected and the group is shipped out to Leni’s first filming location. But life on Leni’s set is just as dangerous as the Nazi camps. The group is guarded by Nazi soldiers, nearly starved, and the extras must subject themselves to Leni’s deadly whims. When Lilo’s mother dies during the movie’s production, Lilo escapes and finds sympathetic citizens who house and safeguard her. But a misguided slip-up on Lilo’s part causes her to be returned to the deadly concentration camps. Remembering Django’s advice and her love for him, Lilo survives and is liberated by American soldiers.