In May 1945, Pavel Mandl, a Polish Jew recently liberated from a concentration camp, finds himself among similarly displaced persons gathered in the Allied occupation zones of a defeated Germany. Possessing little besides a map, a few tins of food, and a talent for black-market trading, he must scrape together a new life in a chaotic community of refugees, civilians, and soldiers. With fellow refugees Fela, a young widow, and Chaim, a resourceful teenager with impressive smuggling skills, Pavel establishes a makeshift family, as together they face an uncertain future. Eventually the trio immigrates to the United States, where they grapple with past traumas that arise again in the everyday moments of lives no longer dominated by the need to endure, fight, hide, or escape.
Ghita Schwarz’s Displaced Persons is an astonishing novel of grief, anger, and survival that examines the landscape of liberation and reveals the interior despairs and joys of immigrants shaped by war and trauma.
Visit Gita at her website, gitaschwarz.com.
I'll start by saying that I find the cover to be one of the prettiest and most eye appealing I have ever come across. Then I will tell you that when I first read the summary for the book, I knew it was one I not only was interested in but couldn't wait to get my hands on.
And now I will tell you that it wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but not in a bad way.
I will say that it was a difficult book to read at times almost too intense, it made me want to put it down and take a deep breath, but it also made me want to stop and thank the Lord for being blessed, for never having to endure what the survivors have.
The author did a brilliant job of bringing us into the story, of taking us down this path, of focusing on what happens AFTER the war, after the heartache and the pain. I think it's easy to forget about the "after" but often there is so much more to the usual survivor stories.
Like I said, it was an intense book to read. Some may find it too serious, others may find it just up their alley. I'm sort of in between, I enjoyed it but I don't think I want to read something similar too soon :)
TLC Book Tours provided a proof copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are mine alone.