Some­where There Is Still a Sun: A Mem­oir of the Holocaust

Michael Gru­en­baum with Todd Hasak-Lowy

  • Review
By – May 20, 2015

Michael Gru­en­baum was eight years old when the Nazis invad­ed his home­town, Prague, in Czecho­slo­va­kia in March 1939. In writ­ing this mem­oir, Gru­en­baum — ably assist­ed by writer Todd Hasak-Lowy — recalls the events that led to his family’s depor­ta­tion to Terezin (There­sien­stadt). Here he is sep­a­rat­ed from his moth­er and sis­ter and joins the boys of Room 7 in the Nesharim.”

Gruenbaum’s account incor­po­rates the inno­cence and even naivety of a young boy try­ing to grap­ple with the events around him: the death of his father, the loss of civ­il rights, the round-up to the ghet­to, the sep­a­ra­tion from his moth­er, the mea­ger pro­vi­sions, and the famous inci­dents of Terezin, the Brundibar children’s opera and the Red Cross vis­it. He finds fel­low­ship in the Nesharim, a band of boys who play soc­cer and watch out for each other.

The back­mat­ter informs the read­er that Gru­en­baum did not remem­ber all this exact­ly. Gaps in his mem­o­ry were filled in with infor­ma­tion from his con­tem­po­raries. The title’s rel­e­vance is ques­tion­able. Still, the book is more like Mor­ris Gleitzman’s Once than Terezin-juve­nile inmate Hel­ga Weissova’s diary, Helga’s Diary: A Young Girl’s Account of Life in a Con­cen­tra­tion Camp. See­ing the events unfold through a young boy’s eyes with­out the medi­a­tion of the adult per­spec­tive presents a fresh take on the Holo­caust nar­ra­tive and should be added to the juve­nile Holo­caust lit­er­a­ture bookshelf.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 10 – 14.

Bar­bara Kras­ner is the author of many books across gen­res, includ­ing fic­tion, poet­ry, cre­ative non­fic­tion, and chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture. Her recent titles include 37 Days at Sea: Aboard the M.S. St. Louis, 1939, Civil­ian Casu­al­ties in War and Ethel’s Song: Ethel Rosen­berg’s Life in Poems. Her book Goldie Takes a Stand! Gol­da Meir’s First Cru­sade was a recip­i­ent of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Hon­or Award. She holds a Ph.D. in Holo­caust and geno­cide stud­ies from Gratz Col­lege, teach­es in the Holo­caust and geno­cide stud­ies pro­gram at the Col­lege of New Jer­sey, and serves as direc­tor of the Mer­cer Coun­ty Holo­caust, Geno­cide, and Human Rights Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter. She also holds an MFA in writ­ing for chil­dren and young adults from the Ver­mont Col­lege of Fine Arts.

Discussion Questions