cover image That Year of Our War

That Year of Our War

Gloria Goldreich. Little Brown and Company, $22.95 (356pp) ISBN 978-0-316-31943-0

Goldreich's ( Years of Dreams ) deeply moving novel views events of the last year of WW II through the eyes of a 15-year-old American girl, narrator Sharon Grossberg, who is exceptionally perceptive, analytical and vulnerable. The heart of the story lies in Sharon's evolving relationship with her mishpacha (extended family), who, after her mother dies of leukemia, resolve that she live with an aunt in Brooklyn. (Sharon's father, a doctor, is serving somewhere in Europe and the absence of his letters is a constant source of anxiety to her.) The young woman spends the summer of 1944 in Woodstock with another aunt and uncle, and her introduction to their offbeat, intellectual and creative friends adds a new dimension to her expanding world. Goldreich again brings a sense of immediacy to the Jewish experience as Sharon's perceptions of the cycles of life--a birth, a wedding, death--are evoked in rich detail, made poignant without being maudlin. The ordinary life of the family, with their Shabbat dinners and various holiday preparations, is tinged with growing horror as they learn of the extermination of relatives in Europe. Sharon's evaluation of a complex adult world is rendered with skill and power. (May)