The Broken Mirror

Kirk Douglas, Author, Jenny Vasilyev, Illustrator
Kirk Douglas, Author, Jenny Vasilyev, Illustrator Simon & Schuster $13 (96p) ISBN 978-0-689-81493-8
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Hardcover - 978-0-689-00380-6
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One of the more egregious examples of celebrity publishing, this relentlessly melodramatic and cliche-ridden novel sets out to explore one boy's experience of the Holocaust. In the first of many unconvincing and/or under-researched episodes, Moishe is six when he and his father, a mathematics professor in Munich, are almost killed on Kristallnacht; until then Moishe has been apparently unaware of Nazis and his parents blind to their precarious positions as Jews (never mind the passage of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 or Munich's prominence in Hitler's rise to power). Moishe's family runs away to the country, where they are later betrayed by the hired hand at the very moment they decide to escape to Switzerland. The family is incarcerated in a concentration camp (complete, again unconvincingly, with crematorium, execution squads and tattoos) that is located in Trieste, of all places; Moishe's parents die and his sister and her boyfriend are killed just as the camp is being liberated. The rest of the book concerns Moishe's temporary rejection of his Judaism and his improbable placement in a Catholic orphanage in Syracuse, N.Y., where, in suitably cinematic fashion, he finds his way back to his own faith. With the availability of so many powerful and heartfelt accounts of the Holocaust (including Memories of Anne Frank and The Beautiful Days of My Youth, both reviewed below), it's hard to imagine why young readers should be offered such hollow fare. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)
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