Come Back for Me: A Novel

May 4, 2018

Artur Man­delko­rn is a young Hun­gar­i­an Holo­caust sur­vivor who is on a des­per­ate quest to find his beloved sis­ter Manya after they become sep­a­rat­ed dur­ing the war. Artur’s jour­ney takes him to Israel where he falls in love with Fan­ny, a young woman who still bears the scars of her own trag­ic past. Inter­sect­ing Artur’s tale is that of Suzy Kohn, a Toron­to teenag­er in the late 1960s whose seem­ing­ly tran­quil life is shat­tered by her uncle’s sud­den death. Grop­ing for answers, she becomes entan­gled in a trou­bled rela­tion­ship with a charis­mat­ic young musi­cian. As Suzy’s com­ing of age sto­ry reach­es a cli­max, Artur’s quest for his sis­ter leads to a shock­ing dis­cov­ery. Their sto­ries come togeth­er in Israel fol­low­ing the Six-Day War, when the read­er trav­els through time and place to arrive, ulti­mate­ly, to the con­nec­tions between generations.

Cho­sen as a Read­ers Choice Book by the His­tor­i­cal Nov­el Soci­ety, COME BACK FOR ME is a riv­et­ing sto­ry of trau­ma, loss, and the redemp­tive pow­er of love.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Sharon Hart-Green

  • The title Come Back for Me” is tak­en from a cru­cial line in the nov­el. What broad­er sig­nif­i­cance do you think it has in the sto­ry? To what extent is com­ing back” a recur­rent theme, and if so, how?

  • The nov­el begins with Suzy Kohn and her response to her uncle’s death. How does her grief man­i­fest itself through­out the nov­el? In what way does it shed light on her rela­tion­ship with her parents?

  • Artur Mandelkorn’s tie to his sis­ter Manya is sev­ered ear­ly in the nov­el when the Ger­man sol­diers forcibly sep­a­rate them. What are the var­i­ous ways that Artur attempts to keep that rela­tion­ship alive?

  • Beyond sav­ing Artur and Manya, what role does Fer­ko ulti­mate­ly play in the novel?

  • How would you com­pare Artur’s atti­tude toward going to Israel ver­sus how he feels when he arrives? What are the rea­sons for this change?

  • Why does Suzy ulti­mate­ly blame her­self for her prob­lems with Fin?

  • How would you com­pare the two char­ac­ters named Emil in the nov­el? How have their life expe­ri­ences influ­enced their indi­vid­ual choic­es in life?

  • What role does Bel­la play in the nov­el? How does she even­tu­al­ly come to terms with the death of her husband?

  • To what extent is this nov­el a com­ing of age sto­ry of Suzy Kohn? What are some of the sig­nif­i­cant events that bring about a change in her life?

  • In his dis­cus­sion with Suzy, Artur Man­delko­rn asserts that tenac­i­ty” is a key ingre­di­ent in Jew­ish sur­vival. What role does tenac­i­ty play in his own life?