Lily Renee Wilhelm was fourteen in 1938, a Jewish girl from a privileged Vienna home whose world was about tobe turned upside down by the war. In this graphic biography, Robbins, Timmons, and Oh bring her vividly to life, describing her budding talent as an artistand her trips to the ballet and opera. With her father at the helm of theHolland America Steamship Company, money was clearly not an issue — until theNazis drove their tanks into town. After Kristallnacht, Lily’s parentsasked the family of Lily’s pen pal, Molly, to sponsor their daughter to move toEngland. In 1939, Lily’s escape from Austria on the Kindertransportlikely saved her life. We know about the concentration camps, the deathcamps and the hardships of the Holocaust. Lily Renee, Escape Artist does not revisit thesesubjects. Instead, it shows us how Lily’s life changed in England. Treated with disdain by her friend’s mother, she was expected to do the work ofa domestic servant and was denied sufficient food. Her misery wasexacerbated by the fact that she could barely speak English at the time. She tried hard to find sponsors for her parents so they, too, could escapeAustria. Instead of assistance, she was offered “moretea.” Fed up with her sponsors, Lily left the house, moved to thecountryside and became a nanny. Later she worked as a nurses’assistant. At one point, she was classified as an enemy alien. Ultimately, she was reunited with her parents in America where she found workcreating a comic book series with women as the central protagonists. Shebuilt a successful life for herself and her family and lived happily everafter. This is a book about determination, hardship, and overcomingadversity. There aren’t many Holocaust-themed books that have a happyending, which makes this one all the more pleasurable to read.
Lauren Kramer is a Vancouver-based journalist, wife, and mother with a lifelong passion for literature. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she has won awards for her writing and reported from many corners of the world. Read more of her work at www.laurenkramer.net.