This is the story of the author’s grandmother, Miriam (Maniusia) Adler, whose Holocaust experience began in her native Poland in 1939, at age 11. Though her story is not so different from others, I Promise You is unique in that it is written completely as a series of free-verse poems from Maniusia’s point of view. She begins as an innocent young girl in a prominent Hassidic family, maturing as she suffers the deprivations and losses that come with life in the Ghetto of Lodz, and eventually several concentration camps.
Its free-verse format makes this book outstanding in its genre of young adult Holocaust literature. The poetry is simple, unaffected, yet full of metaphor. Because the “chapters” are actually poems, the story can be read in small increments, a helpful feature for such a difficult subject.
There are no illustrations, though the text on each page is superimposed over a photograph of the barbed-wire, electrified fence of a concentration camp. At the end of the story, there is an Author’s Postscript, summarizing her grandmother’s adult life. This is followed by several pages of photographs. The photographs provide a bit of optimism as we see Maniusia’s smiling wedding picture, and some artwork made by her husband.
Recommended for readers ages 10 and up as the vocabulary is not difficult but the writing style is sophisticated enough for adult readers as well. The reader will definitely shed some tears while reading I Promise You, but will come away feeling inspired and hopeful.