Safier, David. 28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto. Fiction. Translated from the German by Helen MacCormac. Feiwel, 03/2020. 416pp. $18.99. 978-1-250-23714-9. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 9-12.
As the novel opens, 16-year-old Mira is sneaking food into the Warsaw Ghetto for what is left of her family. The mind-numbing fear of that smuggling trip leads the reader into a chilling and detailed description of the Nazis’ genocidal liquidation of the Jewish population and the fierce but doomed resistance of the dwindling survivors. The novel’s strength lies in its combination of historical and emotional detail: narrator Mira shows us major historical figures in the Ghetto—from the leader of an orphanage to its most powerful smuggler—while also narrating her own reactions to the horrifying events around her and their effect on her own internal growth. A series of stories that characters tell each other provide another glimpse into the hearts of the struggles they are facing. The details make the book, painting a detailed canvas of hatred, horror, and resilience. There is some choppiness in the narration and some immaturity in Mira’s voice, but those drawbacks actually seem almost appropriate in the context of such a chaotic historical period. Although it’s hard to read about such atrocities, it is well worth the time and emotional investment. Review based on an ARC.
Lesley Mandros Bell, Oakland Library Advisory Commission