Anita Diamant, author of The Red Tent and a bunch of other books, has a new novel: Day After Night.
There are four main characters, all of them survivors in various ways of the atrocities of the Holocaust. Each one came through the war in a different way and each one has terrible memories and internal scars. The young women all make their way to Israel and end up imprisoned at Atlit, a detention camp outside Haifa that was set up by the British while they were still in control of what was then Palestine.
This book was remarkable and wonderful. I truly couldn't put it down. Diamant intertwines the historical reality of the situation - the blockade, the Haganah, life after the Holocaust - with a story of friendship and healing that I didn't want to end. These young women are truly "double survivors" - after the terrors of World War II, they're now forcibly kept in another holding pen, the prison of Atlit. In 1945, the Haganah broke 200 "prisoners" out (and interestingly, the raid was planned by a young Yitzchak Rabin), and the book chronicles that story as well.
I was really touched by the connection that the women made to each other, and the way they each dealt with their grief and healing. I loved how the title was a subtle reminder that after every night comes the dawn, and that the wounds of the war began to be healed by the creation of the young state of Israel.
I had the pleasure of meeting Anita at our local Barnes and Noble the day after Rosh HaShanah. (Clearly it was badly timed because there were very few people there!) There weren't a lot of people present who had read the book (just me and one other person) and she asked me which character I had liked the best - and I answered "Zorah" - and then as she talked about each character, I ended up saying, "Oh, I liked her too!" Truthfully, each character was interesting and compelling. (Often when I read a multi-character book I find myself annoyed or even ignoring one character's storyline. This was not the case - these women all felt very close and real to me.)
(I also read this within a week or so of reading Bending Toward the Sun. The books were a lovely complement to each other and their hopeful titles gave me deep calm.)
This book I bought for myself, and I'll buy you a copy too. Leave me a comment here and tell me about a great book you've read lately and I'll choose one lucky reader at random to win a copy!
Don't forget that I'm giving away Bending Toward the Sun and Loving Rabbi Thalia also ...go click over to those posts.
Simchat Torah is this weekend, the holiday in which we celebrate the end of the yearly Torah reading cycle and begin it all over again. What a great way to celebrate the greatest Book of them all!