Stirring story of the tender and unusual friendship between a Holocaust survivor and a woman 40 years his junior.
Resnick (Creative Nonfiction/Brown Univ., Goodbye Wives and Daughters, 2010, etc.) expertly interweaves both sides of her 15-year friendship with Holocaust survivor Aron Lieb. She intersperses bits and pieces of Aron's life in the camps with her feelings about Judaism, her family life and her steadfast belief that the world should do right by her friend, a man who had suffered more than enough. Told in a nonsensational manner, the narrative provides readers with insights into the daily life of a Jew in the concentration camps: the lack of food and clothing, the brutality and illogical tortures, the endless work and the overwhelming determination to survive. Throughout the book, Resnick refers to Aron as “you,” and the back-and-forth conversations between the two companions continue as swirled snippets of memories of "your" somewhat normal life after the war. "Who will remember once your tattoo is gone?" writes the author. "When you die…that symbol will be buried with you. The numbers will decompose. You will come unmarked…then the forgetting will truly commence." Nightmares and anxiety attacks prevailed as Aron grew older, and he continued to struggle with the heart-rending grief of losing most of his family in the camps. Resnick and her family became the family Aron lost, and the author was single-minded in her efforts to provide a respectful death for her friend. Resnick’s compassionate prose captures the voice and soul of Aron, ensuring that his memories will continue long after the number "141324" has disappeared.
A poignant, memorable story of friendship and of a period in time that should never be forgotten.