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.

Relat­ed Content:

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.