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Somewhere There Is Still a Sun: A Memoir of the Holocaust Hardcover – Illustrated, August 25, 2015
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"Young Misha’s narration sets this Holocaust memoir apart from others. Initially unaware of the dark implications of the events, Misha adapted to camp life, playing soccer and making new friends, until he could no longer ignore the truth. His innocence contrasts with what readers (and the adults around Misha) know is going on, which creates a foreboding tone. The use of present-tense narration contributes to the urgency of the narration, and Misha’s sense of fairness and his unfailing faith that things will improve will resonate with students." -- School Library Journal
"The Holocaust’s horrors are handled delicately for middlegrade readers but never detract from the truth. Photographs and letters add to the memoir’s efficacy and poignancy." -- Booklist
"Somewhere There is a Sun reads like the private journal of a Czech boy and later teenager, candidly recording his innermost thoughts and feelings on the daily routines of his life from 1939 to 1945. With this book, Michael Gruenbaum has offered the current generation of young readers a very special book that will trigger both emotion and reflection; it is an extremely valuable tool for all of us who are trying to teach teenagers about the Holocaust . " -- Margot Stern Strom, Facing History and Ourselves
“This account will help young readers imagine themselves in the midst of the unimaginable—and will show them how kids very much like them managed to survive.” -- M.T. Anderson, New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Todd Hasak-Lowy has published several books for adults. 33 Minutes was his first book for young readers and he made his YA debut with Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Evanston, Illinois.
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It is tremendously poignant because Mr. Gruenbaum was just 10 years old when his life changed. He had a warm and loving family home with his parents and sister. Then his father is taken, and they are moved until they end up in a concentration camp. Reading from his perspective and with the help of Mr. Hasak-Lowy, the story flows beautifully in its simplicity and eloquence. I was moved to tears on a NYC train platform reading the passage about his father’s funeral! The pain was palpable but not maudlin.
Yet, even with all of the horrors around him, this young boy managed to keep grounded. He and his friends helped one another and others as soon as they got the chance.
I’ve already passed this book on to my daughters, and will continue to share it because it is completely worth reading.
Michael Gruenbaum’s story is moving, and effective. It is also unusual and riveting, because it describes the impact of the Holocaust on Michael as a young child and then an adolescent, seen through his eyes at each stage of the onslaught. We learn what a 9-year old child thought when German troops first marched in formation through Prague in 1939, and when he and his family were harassed, then dispossessed, then transported to Terezin. Michael also describes the arrest and disappearance of his father. We want to warn him that each experience he describes was more sinister than he thought at the time, but he was only a child, and he eventually had to come to the realization of what was happening on his own. That emerges masterfully. Simultaneously we learn of the resourcefulness of his mother, which enabled her, Michael, and Michael’s sister, and him to emerge after the war. All of this experience is told without bitterness, but from the vantage of one who in adulthood appreciates what his family and Jews endured. Gruenbaum’s book was written with Tod Hasak-Lowy, who includes a brief but fascinating description of the process which he and Gruenbaum went through in order to maximize the accuracy of thoughts and perceptions from the 1930’s and ‘40’s.
This is, indeed, a book we all will remember.