Mendel's Daughter: A Memoir

Martin Lemelman, Illustrator . Free Press $19.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7432-9162-0

In what is clearly a labor of love, artist Lemelman has created a "memoir" told in the voice of his mother, Gusta, a survivor of the Holocaust. With the characteristic phrasing of one who comes to English later in life, Gusta's is a gritty eyewitness report on the great upheaval of eastern Europe in the 1930s and '40s, based on Lemelman's recording of his mother in 1989; at the harshest moments, the reader can take a small bit of comfort that Gusta survived to live a long life in the U.S.A. Her tale begins with her childhood in the town of Germakivka, Poland (in the current-day Ukraine), and kicks into high gear when the Nazis bring war into her village, destroying an entire way of living. Her voice rolls on inexorably, a stark account of human weakness and fear, tragic missteps with fatal consequences, and unimaginable hardships as she survives for two years with two brothers in a hole in the ground. Lemelman's subdued art gives the story its heart; with a combination of charcoal drawings and photographs, he creates a sense both of an almost mythical time gone by and the very real lives that were snuffed out. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/07/2006
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 217 pages - 978-1-4165-5221-5
Hardcover - 217 pages - 978-0-224-07856-6
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