cover image The Lady with the Hat

The Lady with the Hat

Uri Orlev. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-395-69957-7

The Israeli author of Lydia, Queen of Palestine and The Island on Bird Street reprises the theme of Jewish experience during WWII, opening this novel two years after the war has ended. Yulek, the sole survivor of his family, has no further links to the Polish village where he grew up: ``The Germans did us a big favor,'' the current occupant of Yulek's house tells Yulek when he returns from the camps. And so Yulek looks toward Palestine for his future, even though the British enforce strict immigration policies there. Meanwhile, in London, an elegant woman named Melanie recognizes Yulek's face in a newspaper photo of a Jewish refugee camp in Italy-she is his aunt, cut off from the family when she married a British lord. Not certain that Yulek will even remember her existence, Melanie sets out to find him, traveling to Italy and then tracing his circuitous route to Israel. The issues of a Jewish homeland are presented sympathetically and dramatically, but while the writing remains superior to that of most YA novels, it is not Orlev's best. In shifting from the first-person narratives of his previous books to a third-person narration encompassing multiple points of view, the author dissipates the intensity of his story and exposes its dependence on coincidence and other unlikely elements. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)