They Went Left by Monica Hesse - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780316490573
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 7th, 2020

Boy, do I love the surge of post-WWII-reconstruction novels currently happening across all age categories. Too often, Holocaust stories center Christian protagnoists and relegate Jewish characters to roles that (structurally) do little more than serve the Christian-savior narrative. The current focus on the aftermath of the war flips that script, centering the agency of Jews rebuilding their lives. This YA book is a shining example of that. It follows the difficult, extraordinarily written story of Zofia, who is liberated from Gross-Rosen and treated at a rehabilitation hospital before setting out across Europe in search of her brother, the one family member she has any hope of finding alive. Hesse's crystal-clear rendering of PTSD - without access to the language for it, as those terms were not yet in use in the 40s - is magnificent, and Zofia's voice as an unreliable narrator who is increasingly aware of her own memory lapses is vibrant, despite the deep sense of loss that permeates the book. ~ Reviewed by Nadja Tiktinsky

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