GRACE IN THE WILDERNESS: After the Liberation, 1945-48 by Aranka Siegal
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GRACE IN THE WILDERNESS: After the Liberation, 1945-48

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Siegal has written this story as a follow-up to Upon the Head of a Goat, her account of her childhood in Hungary--a happy childhood that ended abruptly and tragically when the Gestapo rounded up her family and loaded them on a train bound for Auschwitz. This volume begins with the liberation; 14-year-old Piri Davidowitz (Siegal's narrator) has managed to survive the death camps and, miraculously, remain with her older sister Iboya, although the rest of their large family has apparently perished. Sick with typhoid, dysentery and malnutrition, Piri spends her first month of freedom in a Red Cross hospital, then is sent with Iboya to Sweden, where they live for the next three years. In Sweden, Piri flourishes--she is ""adopted"" by a Swedish family and with the help of their love grows into an outgoing, even exuberant teen-ager, falling in love and gradually learning to live with the memories of the nightmare she experienced at such an early age. The book is filled with poignant moments and scenes: Piri's longing to return to Hungary, until she realizes that her family and the way of life she knew there are gone; her joy on learning that her sister Etu is alive and on locating relatives in America; her memory of her brother Sandor, who ""shall forever remain six""; her sorrow and regret over her final few hours with her mother on their way to Auschwitz, when she ""failed to tell Mother how very much I loved her."" Separated on arrival, Piri never saw her again. The story ends optimistically, as Piri and Iboya sail to America to join their relatives and start new lives. Grace in the Wilderness is every bit as beautifully told, as profoundly moving as its predecessor, a Newbery Honor winner. Piri's story stands as an eloquent testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux