BEHIND THE SECRET WINDOWS by Nelly S. Toll

BEHIND THE SECRET WINDOWS

A Memoir of a Hidden Childhood
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 10 & up
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 In Toll's remembrance, art equals hope: her happy family pictures, painted in the secret room where she and her mother hid from the Nazis and the Poles, show extraordinary preteen talent (some of the 29 powerfully evocative paintings reproduced here now hang in Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel) as well as the will to survive. Nelly's plight--going from bonbons served on silver platters to hiding behind false walls--was not atypical. In some ways reminiscent of Maus, this emotionally complex and informative memoir reports the willingness of some neighbors to turn in Jews for a bag of potatoes and a bottle of vodka. Adults are keenly observed: a tutor nearly becomes a sex offender; the paranoid man who hides Nelly is both horrifying (wife-beating) and funny (he parades through town with a stack of hats on his head, Ö la Caps for Sale). The poignancy is heightened by evocative language (``minutes walked by with small steps'') and raw emotional hunger (``waiting, waiting for Papa''), and by the postwar rush to reconstitute families by swift remarriages--not seen in many Holocaust books, but an important aspect of healing (cf. Ruth Minsky Sender's To Life, 1988). (Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8037-1362-2
Page count: 162pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993