Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review: Day After Night (& giveaway!)

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!

14 comments:

Rabbi Jason Rosenberg said...

Hey Phyllis, it's Hillary (not Jason). I love her stuff, and am looking forward to reading this new book. I just finished reading a great book by Geraldine Brooks called Year of Wonders. It's about a town in England rocked by the Plague, and despite what you would think with that description, it was wonderful and I couldn't put it down. Chag sameach!

ilanadavita said...

This is certainly a book I'd love. You can find my latest review on my blog. I have also read a book about the Italian mafia but it was too depressing to write about.
Spare the cost of shipping abroad though and send this book to an American reader. :-)

Rivster said...

That Geraldine Brooks book is on my list!!!

I read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" and LOVED it!!!!!

Nancy said...

Always looking for new books and new authors and this one looks good. I just finished reading The 8th Confession by James Patterson - the latest book in the Women's Murder Club Series.

Robin said...

Sounds like a great book. I'm waist-deep in a reread of the entire Patrick O'Brian Master and Commander series right now (all 21 of them, I'm on #9 at the moment - I can't help myself, he always ends with the beginning of the next story), but if that's way too much before that I read and loved Andrew Pham's Catfish and Mandala.

Reiza said...

The last book I read is also one you've read recently (and like you, I finished it in 2 days). I read (and reviewed) "Bending Toward the Sun" and I loved it too. http://offthespaceship.blogspot.com/2009/09/bending-toward-sun.html

Sara said...

I just read 19 Minutes by Jodi Piccoult and really enjoyed it. Before that, I read the whole series "A Great and Terrible Beauty" or something like that and they were quite entertaining.

Veronica said...

This is an author who's books I would love to read. Heard a lot of good things about her.

A good book? Oh I've read quite a few good ones lately but I would say "The timetravellers wife" by Audrey Niffenegger. Very interesting concept.

grottis6 [at] gmail [dot] com

Elyse said...

This books sounds incredible!
If you are looking for a good book I would encourage you to read The Friday Night Knitting Club. This type of book would not normally be my cup of tea, but it portrays womens' friendships so beautifully. This book was difficult to put down!

Jew Wishes said...

The review is great!

How sad that there weren't many there to greet Anita Diamant.

Carla Campbell said...

So generous! I like Anita Diamant books :)

Sara said...

I just finished "Yom Kippur A-Go-Go" by Matthue Roth -- super fun read! I laughed and laughed (and learned!) a ton!

librarymom said...

Been putting this book on the shelf for weeks. NOW I want to read it. After reading your blog last night, my girlfriend and I decided it was going to be our next read for our bookclub of two. Thanks Phyllis!

Marci said...

I'm reading this right now! It will be in the next batch of Significant Jewish Books (but, shhhhh, don't tell, teehee). I am finding it to be lovely, heartbreaking, inspiring, and even funny at times. I'll be sure to link to your review when the time comes!!