Under the Domim Tree

Gila Almagor, Author, Hillel Schenker, Translator
Gila Almagor, Author, Hillel Schenker, Translator Simon & Schuster $15 (176p) ISBN 978-0-671-89020-9
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Almagor, a celebrated Israeli actress, draws on her own adolescence for this absorbing, deeply moving novel set in an Israeli ``youth village'' in 1953. Most of the other young people at Udim are orphans of the Holocaust; Aviya, the narrator, still has her mother, but she is so traumatized by unstated wartime experiences that she cannot care for her daughter. Despite their unimaginably painful pasts, Aviya and her friends are sturdy and optimistic-even in the face of shocking new developments. Timid, withdrawn Yola becomes a type of conduit for everyone's innermost longings after her father is discovered in Warsaw; when he dies from overexcitement before their reunion, Yola summons up unexpected resources of grace and courage. Mira, the only hostile girl in the group, receives the community's wholehearted support when she denies the claims of two Auschwitz survivors who say they are her parents. Sensitively related in Aviya's fresh voice, the extreme nature of these events seems fully believable. It is impossible to come away from this novel without added insight into the impact of war-and admiration for those who endure its horrors. Ages 12-up. (May)
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