Set during the Holocaust, The Vanishing uses a hearty dose of magical realism to tell the tale of Sophie Siegel and her heroic attempts to save her dear friend, Giddy, from Auschwitz.
We meet Sophie when she is about to receive a long-awaited academic honor from her teacher. Suddenly, the Nazis enter the classroom expounding antisemitic rhetoric, and before long, Sophie and the other Jewish children are barred from attending school. This distressing news is followed by unimaginably worse events, including a pogrom that kills Sophie’s parents and the deportation of the remainder of the town’s residents to Auschwitz. Sophie, hiding from the Nazis, soon realizes she has become invisible, and she uses her newfound power to rescue Giddy and others from the concentration camp.
This dramatic page-turner ends on a hopeful note, with Giddy in New York, living out a brighter future. It leaves the reader with a sense of closure despite, or perhaps in spite of, the horrors of the Holocaust. Blending fantasy, magic, and history, this novel will stay with readers for a long time to come.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.