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As Berger’s novel moves back and forth from Vilna to Brooklyn, the focus is on Rosha and Mira as well as on Charlie’s sister Jeanette. All three attempt to make sense of a life that often makes no sense at all. VERDICT: In this engaging debut, a semifinalist for Amazon’s annual Breakthrough Novel Award, readers gain three different views of the effects of World War II on ordinary people.
Despite the title, bitterness is the dark driving force in this stirring debut novel of Holocaust survivor guilt—guilt about being safe. Told with candor and tenderness, there are two parallel stories of Jewish girls—one a teen, one an eight year old— from the same family but worlds apart during WWII.
A Jewish girl in Eastern Europe and her teenage American cousin experience the Holocaust years in vastly different ways in this bittersweet novel…. A tender look at immigrants in America and Nazi victims in Europe succeeds in educating and engaging readers.
It is always pleasant to read an author who can take you back to the past with minute details that cause you to revive faded memories. Sande Boritz Berger does this for Americans who lived during the 1940s by recalling items such as the monthly magazine Modern Screen, one of the first journals to record the private lives of movie stars, mascara which came in cake form and had to be applied with a wet brush, and cut glass doorknobs. She used these touches to set the scene for life in a residential middle class section of Brooklyn as well as for contrast of the superficial lives of Americans who were untouched (or thought they were) by World War II and those who terrifyingly lived through it in Poland. Berger tells the story of two girls, Mira, a teen living in a large house on Avenue T in Brooklyn and Rosha, an eight-year-old, living in the basement of a stranger’s house in Poland. These two are cousins who have never met. And the suspense leading up to when their lives will intersect is kept up throughout the book.