Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: Sala's Gift

Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story by Ann Kirschner
Pages: 227 (Ereader)
Genre: Nonfiction, Holocaust Story


For nearly fifty years, my mother kept a secret.  After surviving 5 years of Nazi slave labor camps, Sala Garncarz Kirschner came to America as a war bride and raised our family without ever speaking of her wartime experiences. 

It was not until my mother was scheduled for heart surgery in 1991 that she showed me a priceless collection of more than 350 letters and a diary from her years in the camps, documents that she had kept carefully hidden in a cardboard box. 

In that moment, my mother changed my life. 

My Rating:

My Review...

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The book starts out as World War II is getting started.  Sala and her family lived simply and struggled to get by.  When Germans begin to send people to labor camps, Sala goes in place of her sister Raizel and hopes to send money home to her family.  Sala does not leave the labor camps until the end of the war five years later.  While in the labor camps, Sala writes to her friends and family to keep up with the outside world and keep everyone informed of her life in the camp and her efforts to remain with her faith.

The story is told through the letters that Sala received from her friends and family.  Where there are gaps, Kirshner explains background stories and events. The letters are poetic and sweet, dwelling on hope and happy times.  I felt emotionally invested in the story, feeling dismay and disappointment.  I also laughed out loud and some of the strange situations Sala found herself.  I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history and likes nonfiction novels.  While the novel has similarities with many fiction World War II novels that I have been reading, it is obviously nonfiction.  I especially loved the pictures that are found at the back of the book.
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