Naava Piatka’s No Goodbyes is about a difficult father and the daughter who loved him even though he often treated her harshly, flying into rages for no apparent reason. After the war, he and his wife, the actress Chaya Rosenthal, settled in South Africa where the author was born and raised. Her mother, who had been a famous actress in the Vilna Ghetto Theatre, became a star of the Yiddish Theatre and traveled around the world performing. With her charismatic mother often away, it was her father who actually brought her up. He was alternately loving and cruel, falling into insane rages and beating her. He was an enigma to her: how could he be so loving and then so cruel? It was only late in his life, during long summer visits sitting by her pool in Boston in the 1990’s, that Piatka’s father finally told her his story, revealing the traumas and ordeals he had undergone during the Holocaust, including time spent in hard labor camps and on the Death March. Piatka is a great story teller, and while the tale is somewhat disjointed and one could use a score card to keep track of all the characters, this is a fantastic read — not only entertaining but also a moving coming to terms with the legacy of the horrific past.
Marcia W. Posner, Ph.D., of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, is the library and program director. An author and playwright herself, she loves reviewing for JBW and reading all the other reviews and articles in this marvelous periodical.