Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Come Back For Me Paperback – May 30, 2017 by Sharon Hart-Green (New Jewish Press)

I have avoided most Holocaust-related fiction because I felt it might be too overwhelmingly depressing. But Sharon Hart-Green's debut novel manages to strike just the right balance of realistic, tragic drama with an underlying spirit of hopefulness.

The author runs two simultaneous plot lines -- one involving the teenaged Suzy Kohn of Toronto in the late 1960's; the other the Holocaust victim Artur Mandlekorn. Separated from his 14-year-old sister, Manya, in a labor camp, Artur devotes much of his energy and pins most of his hopes on finding her alive after the war, refusing to believe she might have died. The reader knows that somehow, his story will converge with the drama in Suzy's family, where an aunt suffers a clinical depression after the death of her husband, who was a survivor. Suzy's indifferent relationship with her Judaism will also be challenged as her life connects with Artur, as well as by her growing discovery in college that her religious/spiritual identity matters.

This story also explores the psychological trauma of Holocaust survivors, not only directly but also into the next generation. Succinctly but effectively, the author shows the impact of this trauma on survivors living in the newly born State of Israel, coping with some of their neuroses and fears, adding to the complexity of a new society born of hope and devastation.

This was a gripping read, expertly done, and leads to a very satisfying conclusion that is both hopeful and also realistic.

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