Escaping into the Night
D. Dina Friedman
Ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2006, 1-4169-0258-9
Halina and her Mama are doing the best they can to have a life in the ghetto in Horwogrodek. It is a terrible time for no one really can be sure when the next “selection” is going to take place. So many people had already been taken away by the Nazis and everyone lives in fear that they will be next. Mama’s latest boyfriend Georg wants Mama and Halina to run away to the forest but Mama refuses saying it would be better to stay in the ghetto.
Then one day Mama does not come home from work. A selection has taken place and Mama was selected to die. Before she has time to think about what has happened Georg bustles Halina and Halina’s friend Batya through a tunnel and out of the ghetto. The girls join three other escapees and the plan is to get to a village where others will help them get to the forest to safety. Unfortunately everything that can go wrong does go wrong. The village they have to get to is now in the hands of the Germans and two of their party are killed. Now there are only three of them: Halina, Batya, and a boy called Reuven.
By some miracle the three children are found and they are taken to the camp in the forest. There they begin a new life, a life where the rules are quite different from the ones they are used to and where they discover that the most powerful tools they have are hope, courage, and the love that they have for each other. The children become a family depending on and fighting for one another, determined that they will somehow stay together in this nightmare world that they find themselves in.
Based on historical facts this novel is a moving and powerful account of a young girl’s struggles to survive in a world that has been ripped apart by war. Halina, Batya, and Reuven each hold onto something to help them through the days. For Halina it is her memories that keep her going; for Batya it is her faith; and for Reuven it is his anger. In the end however all three children grow to discover that it is their love for each other and the others in their camp that is the most powerful incentive of all for survival.
The author has skillfully woven together real war stories about ghetto escapes and forest camps with her own imagined characters to produce a story which will resonate with the reader long after the last page is read.
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