• Review
By – September 19, 2011

At the end of World War II, some 250,000 Jew­ish Holo­caust sur­vivors found them­selves liv­ing as dis­placed per­sons with­out homes or com­mu­ni­ties to return to. In this debut nov­el, Ghi­ta Schwarz weaves togeth­er the nar­ra­tives of four Pol­ish Jews who attempt to find nor­mal­cy in the U.S. after meet­ing in the Bergen-Belsen dis­placed per­sons camp. Their tri­als and tri­umphs tell a heart-rend­ing sto­ry of the courage, tenac­i­ty, and ten­der­ness that con­nect this small group of peo­ple forced to live with the scars of a cat­a­clysmic war.

Schwarz writes with the deft hand of a prac­ticed author, in unsen­ti­men­tal but haunt­ing prose, fol­low­ing her char­ac­ters through their strug­gles to acquire visas, their search for rel­a­tives and the rebuild­ing of their own iden­ti­ties through cre­at­ing their own fam­i­lies. Her por­traits show with clar­i­ty the dif­fi­cult adjust­ments forged by Euro­pean immi­grants in the 60’s and 70’s, a time of great tur­bu­lence in Amer­i­can soci­ety. Final­ly, she grap­ples with their attempts to memo­ri­al­ize the past and the var­i­ous ways in which they envi­sion the future. 

A civ­il rights lawyer spe­cial­iz­ing in immi­grants’ rights, Schwarz hails from a fam­i­ly of post-war Jew­ish refugees. Her nov­el cre­ates a deeply human land­scape that expos­es issues of trau­ma and mem­o­ry and touch­es on some essen­tial truths about what it is that makes us human.

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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