The Girl Who Would­n’t Die

Ran­dall Platt
  • Review
By – June 22, 2017

Abra, now known as Arab, is the reluc­tant hero­ine of Ran­dall Platt’s young adult nov­el set in World War II Poland. Arab dress­es as a street boy and tries to emanate tough­ness and self­ish­ness. How­ev­er, she is tak­en in by a group of chil­dren, tries to save her own estranged fam­i­ly, and is final­ly recruit­ed into a larg­er net­work meant to save Jew­ish chil­dren. Although she has reject­ed God and all parts of her par­ents’ Jew­ish lifestyle, her Jew­ish­ness is a part of her which she can­not remove. Abra was mourned and com­mem­o­rat­ed with a grave­stone by her fam­i­ly, and yet she lives on in Arab. 

Some review­ers have called this work anti-Semit­ic or igno­rant as the Nazis in these pages are not all por­trayed as evil. Arab befriends a homo­sex­u­al Nazi and she is approached by anoth­er Nazi and asked to join his net­work. The ghet­to is described in some detail, as are the death tolls, and yet there is a human­i­ty to those two Nazis that seeps into the writ­ing. There are some graph­ic scenes in which Arab is forced to kill the ene­my in order to save her­self or oth­ers. Oth­er scenes, with Chris­t­ian and Jew­ish orphans are liv­ing on the streets and fight­ing to stay alive, have a more adven­tur­ous and excit­ing feel­ing rem­i­nis­cent of Dick­ens’ Oliv­er Twist.

The book as a whole or in excerpts may pro­vide a trained group leader or edu­ca­tor with excel­lent mate­r­i­al for group dis­cus­sion. Read­ers who have fam­i­ly mem­bers who have been through some of these expe­ri­ences may have much to share that will bring depth to a dis­cus­sion about this book from the view­point of the chil­dren on the street, the deeply reli­gious in the ghet­to, the rich Jews who became no bet­ter than any­one else in the ghet­to, and the reluc­tant Nazis who felt they didn’t have a choice.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 13 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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