Awake in the Dark

Shi­ra Nayman
  • Review
By – June 25, 2012
This col­lec­tion of four mys­ter­ies may seem like a good choice for bed­time read­ing, but it led this read­er into an all-nighter.” The pri­ma­ry char­ac­ters of these sto­ries, which are pri­mar­i­ly set in Amer­i­ca, are the chil­dren of Holo­caust sur­vivors, or think they are. Each tale begins with a provoca­tive sen­tence and ends with a shock. The adven­tures take place in the mid­dle of the sto­ry, in which the author fre­quent­ly uses the device of pas­sages alter­nat­ing between the present quest and its solu­tion in the Ger­man past, which the main char­ac­ter uncov­ers after find­ing hid­den evi­dence. The daugh­ter of a dying moth­er sens­es that some­thing doesn’t ring true and goes back to Ger­many to find out what it is, in The House on Konen­strasse,” while in The Porce­lain Mon­key” Rinat, the eldest daugh­ter of an Ortho­dox moth­er of sev­en, ques­tions her moth­er why she, Rinat, has blue eyes while the rest of her fam­i­ly are brown-eyed. In The Lamp,” a lov­ing daugh­ter respects her dead mother’s need to keep the secrets of who her father was, and why her moth­er both­ered to car­ry a heavy lamp to Amer­i­ca when the two fled from Ger­many. The fourth sto­ry, named Dark Urges of the Blood,” is the longest and most con­vo­lut­ed. Despite sim­i­lar tech­niques among the sto­ries, each is sus­pense­ful and beau­ti­ful­ly written.
Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

Discussion Questions