A child of Holocaust survivors who was born in a DP camp and immigrated to Canada as a toddler, Gina Roitman writes from the heart in Tell Me a Story, Tell Me the Truth. Drawing on her own experiences, Roitman’s connected short stories center around the character of Leah Smilovitz, a child caught between the realities of 1960’s Montréal and the memories of her parents’ families who perished in the Holocaust. What is it like to grow up surrounded by the ghosts of dead memories? Roitman captures this dilemma in powerful language. “From some dark cavern, my mother let loose all her ghosts at once and they flew screeching into the room, swooping and howling with grief. The walls grew liquid with the heat of their anguish…and the ends of their garments rippled past my face, leaving me shivering.” In the interrelated stories we meet neighbors and members of Leah’s family and learn about the fabric of their lives as immigrants. There’s Katya, the beautiful Hungarian who gets caught in an affair with a controlling, manipulative man, and Hermie, a childhood friend with a serious heart problem. But Roitman’s most captivating chapters deal with Leah’s parents, the legacy of their Holocaust experiences, and how they impact the life of their Canadian daughter.
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.