LALA'S STORY by Lala Fishman


A Memoir of the Holocaust
Email this review


 Another entry in Northwestern's ``Jewish Lives'' series (for another, see Ruth Liepman, Maybe Luck Isn't Just Chance, p. 1690), this volume recounts the experiences of a young Polish-Jewish girl between 1939 and 1945. Fishman (nÇe Clara Weintraub) was the daughter of secular, comfortable, if not prosperous, Russian Jews. Her father was a successful jazz musician in Lvov and, for a time, head of the musicians' union in that city; her mother's family had enjoyed some success in business. The Weintraubs' world was shattered repeatedly, first by pogroms, then by the Russian Revolution, and finally, and most appallingly, by the Holocaust. At first, fate was kind to them, with Lvov falling under the jurisdiction of the Red Army, but when Hitler invaded Russia and the Russians were driven out of Poland by the Wehrmacht, the round-ups and mass murders began. Lala avoided the fate that befell most of her family because she was resourceful, spunky, and a blue-eyed blonde. She managed to successfully pass for a Polish Catholic under the fictional name Urszula Krzyzanowska, narrowly avoiding arrest and certain death on numerous occasions. Like so many other recent Holocaust memoirs, this volume serves as an important reminder of the cataclysm's terrible cost, of the sheer viciousness with which the Nazis attacked not only the Jews but also the civilian population of Poland. Indeed, the most riveting section of the book is a lengthy recounting of the first day of the war, the chaos, noise, dirt, smoke, blood, and wreckage, as experienced by a teenage girl. At its best, Lala's Story reads like a good thriller. At its worst it is perfunctory but never dull. Among the better recent Holocaust memoirs, with a firm grounding in Polish-Jewish history and an admirable frankness that makes no effort to disguise its heroine's human foibles.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1998
ISBN: 0-8101-1499-2
Page count: 351pp
Publisher: Northwestern Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1997