From Publishers Weekly
Based on a true story, Ramati's novel depicts the atrocities committed by the Germans against the Gypsies during World War II. In the early 1940s, Roman Mirga learns that Gypsies in Germany are being rounded up and shipped to "relocation camps" for extermination. He warns his clan about the impending danger but is able to convince only a handful of them to flee with his familyto Hungary. When the Nazis invade, however, the Gypsies are deported to Auschwitz, and the family is able to spare Roman's younger sister only by dropping her from the deportation train while en route to the camp. At Auschwitz the Gypsies become slave workers; Roman is forced to help Dr. Mengele with his experiments on twins, and his father must play the violin for the Jews as they are herded into the gas chambers. Roman witnesses each member of his family die before he is able to escape. Awkward expository passages and one-dimensional characters vitiate the effect of this memorial to victims of Hitler's racial policies.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA During World War II, the Gypsies were targeted for extermination in a campaign that was second only to the campaign against the Jews. Thousands of Gypsies perished. Ramati planned to do a book on this lesser-known episode when he accidentally encountered a Gypsy who had lived through the horror and recorded his experiences informally. This book, then, is a recreation by Ramati of Roman Mirga's written notes. Despite initial awkwardness in portraying the Mirga family, the horrifying story of their flight from a comfortable life in Warsaw to their ultimate imprisonment is electrifying. The 17-year-old narrator becomes the translator for Dr. Josef Mengele; the father has the bizarre task of playing the violin to calm the Jews as they walk to the crematoriums. Fear, separation, and death mix constantly with disbelief that this could really be happening. It is a lesson which must never be lost. Barbara Weathers, Duchesne Academy, Houston
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Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.