When Nessya and her friend Rachel cook up a scheme to get into Grandma Miri's apartment to search for evidence while she is out to look for clues, the plan backfires. But, is Grandma Miri really a survivor? For almost two weeks, Grandma Miri keeps to herself, seeing no one but her husband. When she finally does come to visit, she takes Nessya aside and begins to talk to her about her past.
Living in Munkács, Czechoslovakia, Miri Eneman was part of a large, loving family and life was pretty peaceful. The family thought they were Hungarian and pretty safe from the Nazis, until one night in the spring of 1944 it all changed with a knocking on their door. The family was being rounded up. That night, Miri's father escaped out the back window, leaving everyone to think he had run off and deserted his family. But in reality, that was just the beginning of his fight for their survival.
When she leaves, Grandma Miri gives Nessya a packet of letters written by her family members and tucked into their diaries, all of which her grandmother had spent two weeks translating for her granddaughter and including her own memories of her family during the Holocaust. The story of her family's survival is her gift to Nessya for her upcoming bat mitzvah.
Miri's story is riveting. The Eneman family is often on the run after escaping the Munkács Ghetto, in hiding and living in fear, separated from other family members and never knowing what is happening to them. All the while, Miri's father manages to anticipate what to do and stay one step ahead of Nazi actions, even hiding in plain sight in Budapest. At one point, they find themselves living in and caring for a grand apartment after the owner flees to Switzerland. Here, they lived across the street from the virulent anti-Semitic Hungarian pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party's headquarters and under the nose to an equally anti-Semitic concierge. But can their collective luck whole out until the end of the war?
Escape in Time is a truly apt name for this novel about one Jewish family's survival during the Holocaust. It is a story of courage, daring, luck and survival doing whatever needs to be done. Lowenstein-Malz based this story on actual memoirs giving it a real sense of authenticity. The book is written in such a way that the reader reads Miri's story right along with Nessya, but there are occasional breaks where we see her reaction to what she is reading (don't be surprised if your reactions are similar to hers).
There aren't many good middle grade books about the fate of Hungarian Jews in WWII so this is a welcome additon to the body of Holocaust literature. For so long, they, like the Eneman family, thought they were safe, but it was just a question of time and politics and it all changed. It is one of the reasons that I found myself so drawn into Miri's memories, and her family's letters and diary entries. This is a slightly different Holocaust story in that, interestingly, no one in Grandma Miri's immediate family spends any time in a concentration camp, though extended family were sent there from the ghetto in 1944. Young readers will not only meet this courageous family, but they will also meet some really good people willing to help the Enemen family as well as some really hateful people who would turn them in in the blink of an eye.
Escape in Time was originally written in Hebrew and I found the translation to be a very smooth one. Having done some translating myself, I know it is often hard to get together all the elements that make a book great, but that wasn't a problem here.
Throughout this novel, there are realistic sepia-toned portrait illustrations that enhance the narration about the Eneman family.
|Miri and her older sister Magda|
This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This was an EARC recieved from Net Galley