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Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review - Day After Night

Well here we are again with another Blogger Book Club review.  This is the 3rd book review for the Blogger Book Club.  In case you missed the first 2 you can read them here and here.  You can also participate by joining our Facebook page here.

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More than 10 years ago I started a book club in Toronto and Anita Diamont's first book, The Red Tent was our very first selection.  Everyone in the group adored the book.  I was actually a bit nervous when I started to read Day After Night because I wondered how it could ever live up to the wonderfulness of The Red Tent.  It did not disappoint!


This story chronicles the lives of 4 young Jewish women who are all detainees in Atlit, a British detention centre for refugees.  The story is based on an actual historical event - the rescue of more than 200 detainees from Atlit in October, 1945.  The people in Atlit were mainly European Jews who had survived the Holocaust and were looking for a new life in Palestine.

Tedi, Zorah, Leonie and Shayndel are all orphaned girls whose parents have been killed during the Holocaust and in their own way each of them wonders why they have survived when so many of their loved ones have not.  The girls, all under 21, have survived through various means.  Tedi was hidden in the Dutch countryside, lost her sense of smell and has now regained it with a vengeance.  Zorah spent time in a concentration camp and vows to spit in God's eye for what has been done to her family.  Leonie is a French beauty who was forced into prostitution and Shayndel is a Polish Zionist who swears she will not pick up a machine gun again "not even for the Jewish state".

Before reading this book I was unaware that during this time many Jews without papers, whether destroyed, lost or left behind somewhere, were considered to be illegal immigrants.  They would end up in these Detained Persons camps and continue to suffer behind bars.  How amazingly horrific to be so close to freedom after the war but unable to resume life outside of barbed wire.

Most of this book takes place inside the detainment camp and while it could have been a heavy and difficult story to read it is fundamentally optimistic.  It's a story of the small comforts that these 4 young women take in the friendships, the food and the religious celebrations they share together while detained.  

The book was only 300 pages and for once I'll say that it could have been longer.  The only fault I find in this book is that I would have liked to learn more about the circumstances of the lives of each girl before Atlit.  

Thumbs up and bravo Anita Diamant for another wonderful novel.

Our next book club selection will be On Beauty by Zadie Smith.  We don't have an exact date but it will be reviewed in September.  We'll keep you posted on future reads in the next short while.


So, what did you think of Day After Night?


7 comments:

  1. I loved this book too! Great pick. I have always been drawn to world war II stories and this one did not disappoint. It's written from such a different perspective...young girls dealing with loss, yet eager to start a new life.
    Love the cover of On Beauty...excited for September!

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  2. I agree that this story was above all optimistic! I thought it was very skillful writing to be able to write about such a dire time and subject, yet be able to personalize all of the characters and their relationships. I don't think this book was as captivating as the Red Tent, but definitely my favourite book out of our first three picks for the book club. Looking forward to reading On Beauty!

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  3. I think I need to figure out how to fit this in! Your review makes me want to run out and find that book, curl up and get started! And I just might do that. :-)

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  4. Yay. Just joined the book club! I'm looking forward to Zadie Smith's book. I really enjoyed her first novel, "White Teeth". Cheers!

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  5. Sounds like a very intruiging read! Thanks so much for the great book leads - I might just have to join!

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  6. I loved this book - I picked it up late and worried that I wouldn't finish it in time, but it was definitely one of those can't-put-down reads for me and I finished it in no time (I wished it was longer too). I've read or watched a lot about life during the war and in the camps, but reading this book I realized I really haven't read or watched much about what life was like for the survivors afterwards. It was a new and incredibly interesting perspective for me, and I also think it gave me more insight into the very complicated and difficult conflict currently going on in Israel and Palestine.

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  7. I never got a chance to read it. Life was so busy up until now but i am game to read the next one!

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