A heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive account from the 20th century’s darkest days.



One of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau tells her remarkable story.

When Friedman and her mother miraculously walked out of the extermination camp together in April 1945, her mother said one word: “Remember.” Now 83, Friedman has penned a memoir with the assistance of veteran war reporter Brabant, seeking to “immortalize what happened, to ensure that those who died are not forgotten. Nor the methods that were used to exterminate them.” Beginning at age 2, Friedman shares gut-wrenching memories of life in the Jewish ghetto in German-occupied central Poland known as Tomaszów Mazowiecki, where she and her family were forced to live. Eking by in overcrowded, often squalid conditions, they struggled to find food, witnessed the disappearances of family and friends, and lived in constant fear. “When I heard heavy boots,” she writes, “I knew trouble was imminent.” Throughout this time, the only certainty was her parents’ enduring love. “Beyond them…there was nothing but the abyss,” she writes. When she was 5, Friedman and her family were sent to Starachowice labor camp, and the author shares the raw details of the brutality and horrors that she and her family experienced. Then she and her mother were relocated to Auschwitz-Birkenau, while her father was sent to Dachau. Through luck and determination, they managed to cheat death multiple times; however, the psychological effects would last a lifetime. Although Friedman and her parents survived, their struggles did not end after the camps. They continued to face antisemitism and struggled to reassimilate. In one of the most haunting passages, the author describes a “recurring nightmare” of “walking among dead bodies…after which further sleep is impossible.” Despite the many horrifying ordeals she has endured, she remains courageous and faithful: “Everything I do, every decision I make today, is forged by the forces that surrounded me in my formative years.” Actor Ben Kingsley provides the foreword.

A heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive account from the 20th century’s darkest days.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-335-44930-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A graceful debut.



A series of essays cohere into an evocative memoir.

In her first book, Zoffness, winner of a Sunday Times Short Story Award, gathers thoughtful pieces on themes that include motherhood, anxiety, and Jewish identity. Raised by extraordinarily fearful parents and worried about bequeathing her own anxiety to her son, the author studied medical journals and textbooks “to learn parent-child transfer.” She tries to assuage her 6-year-old’s fears, she tells her therapist, by putting up “a shield of faux calm.” The therapist referred her to a nearby doctor: “Maybe,” she suggested, “if you talk to her you can respond to him with real calm instead of faux calm.” Her 4-year-old son, too, incites her worries because he is obsessed with becoming a police officer. Zoffness is dismayed by “the heraldry of dominance and toughness that my boys can’t help but inhale,” and she finds it difficult to talk about injustice and brutality with such young children. She comes to realize, though, that the child is not drawn to violence; as the younger sibling, he just wants to exert some power. In “Ultra Sound,” Zoffness reflects on her tense relationship with her own mother, a deeply private woman who refuses to share details about her past as a performer. “Holy Body” merges the theme of motherhood with Jewish identity: Zoffness chronicles her mikveh, or ritual bath, intended, in part, “to help Jews of all stripes honor life transitions or commemorate occasions.” Zoffness acknowledges her momentous transition from childbearing in contrast to a friend, a mother of three, who has become a gestational surrogate, an act of altruism the author finds both selfless and mystifying. In other sharp pieces, the author recounts teenage angst and a friend’s betrayal; a visit to an astrologer recommended by a therapist; and confronting evidence of the Holocaust in the idyllic city of Freiburg, where Zoffness was teaching.

A graceful debut.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-952119-14-9

Page Count: 165

Publisher: McSweeney’s

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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