In the Face of Evil: Based on the Life of Dina Fry­d­man Balbien

Tema N. Merback
  • Review
By – June 4, 2012
Ten-year-old Dina Fry­d­man lives a com­fort­able mid­dle class life with her fam­i­ly in Radom, Poland in the sum­mer of 1939, just weeks before the Nazi inva­sion. Then, her fam­i­ly is forced to move to a ghet­to leav­ing their good life behind and learn­ing to sub­sist on pawned jew­el­ry and menial wages from the teenage work­ers until the fam­i­ly is sent to Tre­blin­ka. Aktions and oth­er atroc­i­ties are described in great detail yet the sto­ry of Dina and her friends will res­onate with a young audi­ence. Through­out the book we see Dina as a young teenag­er with all the con­cerns of a girl her age, love inter­ests, girl­friends and dreams of a future in Pales­tine. We wit­ness Dina’s bat­tle to sur­vive and, through the pages of the book, feel the dead­ly apoc­a­lypse that trans­forms her from an inno­cent child to an adult who has sur­vived so many hor­rors. From work camps to death camps, Dina sur­vives against all odds. The after­math of six years of death and destruc­tion presents a new obsta­cle, how to live? With the war over, Dina trav­els from a way sta­tion at a Ger­man cas­tle to a DP facil­i­ty and, final­ly, to a school for orphans as she strug­gles to reclaim her life. The sto­ry ends with her painful debate as to where to cre­ate this new life, in Pales­tine with her friends and the man she loves, or the Unit­ed States which seems to present so much oppor­tu­ni­ty for the future. 

Young read­ers will relate to the sto­ry of Dina, told here so mov­ing­ly by her daugh­ter. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 14 and up.
Dro­ra Arussy, Ed.D., is an edu­ca­tion­al con­sul­tant who spe­cial­izes in inte­grat­ing Jew­ish and sec­u­lar stud­ies, the arts into edu­ca­tion, and cre­ative teach­ing for excel­lence in Jew­ish edu­ca­tion. She is the moth­er to four school-age chil­dren and has taught from pre-school through adult. Dro­ra is an adjunct pro­fes­sor of Hebrew lan­guage at Drew University.

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