From Publishers Weekly
This chaste Holocaust memoir perfectly illustrates how a great and moving story can fail to be a great and moving book. Television producer Korenblit and Janger, the director of a national writing competition, use conventional terms to relate an extraordinary story. In 1942, Korenblit's parents, Manya and Meyer, were teenagers in love in Hrubieszow, Poland. But they were also Jewish and soon found themselves torn from their families and each other as they were shifted from camp to camp. Before they were separated, though, the two promised to meet in their hometown at the end of the war, which they did--two of the fewer than 200 surviving members of the 8000-strong Jewish community that had lived in Hrubieszow before the war. The writing here just is not as powerful as the facts, however. One strategic choice depletes much of the suspense: Korenblit reveals in an introduction that while researching the book, he discovered one of his mother's brothers living in England. It's a fantastic detail, initially well told, but by the end, when it is repeated, it sounds pedestrian. Other techniques lessen dramatic effect. For example: while in the camps, Manya kept an ersatz diary, jotting down daily events in terse lists such as ``Cyvia, joy, horrible condition, no hair, Cyvia better, new friend, replaced shoe, washed dress, farmwork'' which she rolled into tight cylinders and concealed in her hair. Rather than relying on the lucidity of those original notes, Korenblit and Janger imagine what Manya would have written had she had the paper and the time.
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