Before I start my review, I have to put up this disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for a discounted price through Tomoson and the publisher. Any and all opinions expressed in this review are mine and mine alone. I received no financial compensation for this review. Now that is over, on to the review.
An astonishing manifestation of loyalty and courage
The real story of a little girl born into the chaos of war and holocaust.
It’s a warm and muggy Saturday night in August of 1942. The Nazis are liquidating the ghetto of Shedlitz, an industrial town east of Warsaw, Poland. Zippa, a 27-year-old Jewish woman, finds temporary shelter in a small attic, together with her baby daughter and a hundred frightened Jews. When the Nazi noose is tightened around her neck, Zippa asks her husband Jacob, a Jewish policeman in the ghetto, to save their little girl from certain death. The young father manages to smuggle his wife and daughter to the gentile part of town, where Zippa’s childhood girlfriends Sophia and Irena reside.
This is the real story of one Jewish family confronted by the terror of Nazi rule. The book follows Lalechka, the little girl born into the chaos of war and holocaust and forced to struggle with the reversals of fortune that led her each time into foreign and terrifying regions. But, beyond that, it is the story of the true friendship of three girls in early 20th Century Poland, a friendship that won’t cower before government dictates. An astonishing manifestation of loyalty and courage.
This is Amira Keidar’s first novel, based on the journal written by the young mother during the annihilation of the ghetto, as well as on interviews with key figures in the story, rare documents and authentic letters.
This book made me cry…..a few times. The horrors of the Holocaust can (and will never) be fully appreciated by anyone who didn’t live through it but this book did a great portraying it. The liquidation of the ghetto (when Zippa and Rachel were in the attic), the sounds that they both heard, the terror and the fright that Zippa must have felt being cooped up in a closet with her baby projected right onto me.
As a mother, I could never imagine having to make the choice of leaving your child and going back to certain death. But, also as a mother, I would have done the same thing. I would have only hoped that my friends would love and care for my children like Sophia and Irena cared for Rachel.
There is so much more that I want to go into but can’t without spoiling the book. So much more that I could say.
I do plan on having my children read this book when they get old enough. They need to understand this part of their heritage (they are 3/4 Jewish) and how it could be possible that they had relative perish during this horrible time.
Rachel’s story touched me also. No child should have to endure what she did. No child should be made to feel unloved or shuttled from place to place. The thing about war and its aftermath, it is always the children who suffer the most.
In conclusion, I would recommend this book to everyone. It is a story of a mother and father’s love for their child, a story of a friendship that defied the times and a story of a little girl who struggled to find her place in the world after the war ended and the atrocities committed by Hitler were revealed.
Will, I read it again? Yes I will.