cover image Thanks to My Mother

Thanks to My Mother

Schoschana Rabinovici / Author, Shoshanah Rabinovits / Author, Mirjam Pr

Particularly grim, even for a Holocaust memoir, this work owes much of its force to the author's unusually detailed powers of memory. Only eight when Germany occupied her home city of Vilnius in Lithuania, Rabinovici endured nearly two years of extreme privation in the Jewish ghetto established by the Nazis and spent the balance of the war in concentration camps. As her title indicates, she owes her survival to her mother, a fast-thinking realist whose courage and ingenuity were bolstered by family wealth and extensive contacts. Rabinovici is unsparing in her recollections: she describes ""selections"" during which babies abandoned by their mothers are trampled by the crowds; bathhouse abortions; a hellish journey in the cargo deck of a ship, where the passengers are sprayed with feces and vomit. The only concession to young readers appears to be footnotes that define religious, political and historical terms. The writing suffers from repetition and a stiff style--perhaps a reflection on the book's original composition in German, not the author's native tongue (although she has made her home in both Tel Aviv and Vienna since 1964). Too, the author lacks the redemptive vision of, for example, Livia Bitton-Jackson in I Have Lived a Thousand Years. But readers--adults or youths--whose interest in Holocaust testimonies does not pivot on literary polish and who are mentally prepared for the harshness of Rabinovici's experiences will come away with renewed appreciation of the extraordinary fortitude and fortune required to survive in those dire times. Ages 13-up. (Apr.)