Jennifer Roy's Yellow Star
Book review by Karen Talley
Author Jennifer Roy tells the story of her aunt, Syvia Perlmutter, and her family's survival during the Holocaust.
The story begins in Lodz, Poland. Syvia is four and a half years old when her family is forced to leave their home.
Nazis isolate Polish Jews in areas called ghettos. Barbed wire fences surrounded these areas, which were guarded by German soldiers. A total of 270,000 Jews were relocated to the Lodz ghetto.
As the war progressed conditions continued to worsen in the Lodz. Food was rationed, people were dying from starvation and illness. German soldiers were killing people and children were being kidnapped. Many were shipped to death camps under the pretense of getting work.
The summer of 1944 brings news that Germany is losing the war. The Jews pray the war will soon end and they can go home...but do they still have a home?
For five and a half years Syvia's family, along with the other survivors at Lodz, elude the Nazis. They hid in different locations throughout the ghetto. Somehow the people stay one step ahead of the soldiers - until their location was compromised.
Syvia tells of their incredible rescue by Russian soldiers in the winter of 1945: how the yellow Star of David Jews had been forced to wear saved their lives.
There were only 800 of over a quarter million Jews who survived Lodz. Syvia and her family were among them. They were liberated and walked out of the ghetto January 19, 1945, one day before Syvia's tenth birthday.
The Perlmutters returned to their home, but postwar prejudice prevented them from staying in Poland.
They eventually relocated to Paris where Syvia spent her teen years. After her mother's death, she and her father immigrated to the United States. She met her husband, David, and they were married in 1957.
At the time of this publication, Syvia, now known as Sylvia, was a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She also became involved with an organization teaching Holocaust history.
Ms. Roy shares Sylvia's experiences as seen through the eyes of a child--a young girl with no understanding of why people hated the Jews or why they were persecuted and put to death.
Sylvia's story went untold for over fifty years. She, like so many other survivors, finds it difficult to discuss atrocities of the Holocaust. Thankfully, people like Sylvia eventually tell their story, a story that needs to be told so that future generations will not repeat the mistakes of the past.
The author did an excellent job giving a voice to this heartwarming account of hope, courage and survival.
Yellow Star is a book I would recommend to my own grandchildren. This is a good read for children in the middle age group.
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