The Van­ish­ing

  • Review
By – November 29, 2022

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.

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