Earlier this week, Jennifer Rosner wrote about a gene mutation, a motherly connection, and the power of string. She is the author of the picture book, The Mitten String (Random House, 2014) and the memoir, If A Tree Falls: A Family’s Quest to Hear and Be Heard (Feminist Press, 2010). Jennifer will be blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council’s Visiting Scribe series.
As I work on new writing projects, string imagery continues to have its hold. My novel-in-progress, Hidden, is about a mother and child, set during the Holocaust. The mother gets the opportunity to put her child in a convent for safety, but the act of giving her child away (even to save her) triggers debilitating emotions of all sorts. In my story, the mother struggles with connection for the rest of her life.
Strings figure into the story, but in nefarious ways. The mother stitches her child’s Jewish name into the seam of her security blanket – to let her know her given name and to hasten a reunion later – but this threading comes to haunt the mother in dreams in which her daughter is gagged, choked, and pierced as the stitches create additional risk that her child’s Jewishness will be discovered. In time, the child becomes a violinist (a player of strings), and music ultimately becomes an avenue for reconnection and healing, but along the way there is heightened risk of discordance, brokenness, and the giving-away of safe hiding places because of the sounds emanating from those strings.
Ties bind. In Hidden, I explore the complex need for human connections even as one’s survival may require their unraveling.
Jennifer Rosner’s writings have appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, The Jewish Daily Forward, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. Jennifer holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stanford University, and is editor of the anthology, The Messy Self (Paradigm Publishers, 2007). She lives in Western Massachusetts with her family.
- Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust – Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour by James A. Grymes
- Reading List: Music and Jews
- Reading List: Holocaust
Jennifer Rosner is author of The Yellow Bird Sings, a 2020 National Jewish Book Award finalist in Debut Fiction and Book Club. She also wrote the memoir If a Tree Falls: A Family’s Quest to Hear and be Heard, and the picture book, The Mitten String, about deafness in her family, which she has traced back to Galicia in the 1800s.