Thursday, December 17, 2015


I received a copy of the book Lalechka by Amira Keidar recently. This is Keidar's first book based on the true story of a family and their friends who lived in Poland.

The Story

This story begins in the village of Shedlitz Poland in the early 1900's. Three girls meet at school two of them are Christian and the other girl is Jewish. The girls are Zippa, Irena and Sophia. It tells about their lives growing up in a small Polish town. How close they were growing up. Life was pretty good for the most part.

Then came 1939, and Germany invaded Poland. Everything in their home town changed especially for Zippa. But one thing remains constant, the girls commitment to their friendship. Zippa finds herself segregated in the ghetto with her family. Life becomes increasingly difficult for the individuals in the ghetto. Zippa makes the difficult decision of giving her baby daughter to her friends since she was sure that her future was certain death.

The story follows the baby Rachel through her survival story away from her mother. It wasn't easy for the friends to assure that the baby remained safe. And then the Germans were defeated, Rachel was left with no biological family in the area. Rachel is a fortunate child to have a group of individuals who constantly looked out for her well being.

What I Liked

I have read several books about the Holocaust. And this book is the best I've read so far. I liked how this book followed these girls through the lives. I think it showed what life was like before, during and after the German occupation. While the events that occurred during that time period are the center of the story, it doesn't really explain the entire tragedy. 

I liked how the author points out in one point in the story that one of the young girls saw other individuals calling her Jewish friend names. The girl doesn't really understand that way of thinking. I believe that it's not always ignorance of a hatred that always it to occur. I believe it can actually be a lack of understanding of how can individuals think that way. It reminded me of an incident when a neighbor, who is a person of color told me how a neighbor wouldn't even look at him when he moved into the home he lives in. My reply was people still act that way? He said oh yes there are some like that. I just couldn't understand the thought process behind not talking to someone based on their skin color.

I also liked that this story focuses on the relationship between the girls. Because it is the friendship between the two girls that causes them to provide baby Rachel with a home. They take incredible risks to save their friend and her child. And they put Rachel's best interests before their own even when it is painful. That's a commitment to a friend. 

As I thought about the risks the girls were taking, it occurred to me that they were doing this mainly due to their friendship. They were doing the right thing by helping her, but it was because they were friends. It wasn't simply because it was the right thing to do. Is creating meaningful relationships between individuals with diverse backgrounds one of the ways to decrease the likelihood of the recurrence of a genocide. I know that it isn't that simple, but it's an easy starting point I think.

Who Should Read This

This book is appropriate for any age group from young adult up. There are some descriptions of some horrific events that occurred, but those events really did occur. So it is fitting, and it isn't over the top. The story is bittersweet. And there are times you want to tell Zippa what are you thinking? The story is well written, and because the author tells each individuals story from their point of view you won't want to stop reading. 

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for a review, but the opinions in the review are all mine.

1 comment: