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Stein, Andre.

Toronto, Lester & Orpen Dennys, c1984. 203pp, cloth, $15.95, ISBN 0-88619-082-7. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

Countless volumes have been inspired by the horrors of the Holocaust, as though only through the cathartic experience of communication can relief be found. André Stein's sustained, compulsive cry of rage, boiling out of the stifled silence of years, is unique in its power to convey the tragedy and waste of that gigantic crime. It is the story of one desolate little boy, of a shattered family, of a lost people, of all the frightful deeds that stain the history of that terrible era.

Stein's family were assimilated, non-observing Jews of Budapest. They believed themselves to be at one with their neighbours, scarcely conscious of their own Jewishness, until suddenly and by violence it became the only meaningful aspect of their lives, as the earth that had seemed solid beneath their feet dissolved into quicksand. Through a series of knife-edged dialogues with a Torturer, a Victim, a Spectator, a Survivor, and with his own younger self, Stein forces the reader into a nightmare realization of "the greatest single crime in history." Only in the closing pages blessed by the presence of his children, is there the trace of relief, healing and hope after forty haunted years.

Joan McGrath, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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