TORN THREAD by Ann Isaacs


Age Range: 10 - 14
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In 1943, motherless 12-year-old Eva, her sickly older sister Rachel, and their Papa are forced by the Germans, who have

occupied their Polish town, Bezdin, to live in the Jewish ghetto. Papa knows their lives are in danger and worries what will

happen to his girls if he is killed or sent to a death camp. Then one day, as Rachel is walking to their aunt’s apartment for a

visit, the soldiers raid the ghetto and carry her off. Weeks pass, and Papa finally hears that she is alive in a labor camp in

Czechoslovakia. Since conditions in the ghetto worsen daily and the raids increase in frequency, Papa begs the Nazi official for

whom he works to send Eva to join Rachel in Parschnitz; miraculously, his request is granted. At the camp, conditions are

terrible—there is little water and practically no food, and the inmates are forced to work 18 hours a day at jobs that are not only

difficult but extremely dangerous. Eva, for example, works on spinning machines, where she must keep lint from clogging the

machinery by reaching into the moving mechanism. The girls grow weaker by the day, and their worries are compounded by

two things: their uncertainty about the fate of Papa the ever-present chance that they will be chosen to board the trains that leave

each day for the death camps. While the book is fiction, the author has based it on the life of her own mother-in-law, who

survived in the camps even as her sister did. Every word of this radical change for Isaacs (Swamp Angel, 1994, etc.) rings as

true as any first-person story told by an actual survivor, giving young readers another powerful testament to the horrors of the

Holocaust. (Fiction 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-590-60363-9
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2000