Francisco Chronicle Review
CHILDREN'S SUMMER READING
Young war refugee makes a new life in New York
Reviewed by Susan Faust/San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Lost In America, By Marilyn Sachs
World War II came to an end in Europe 60 years ago this month. The
Nazis surrendered, the killing stopped, but the effects of madness
persisted way beyond V-E Day, as we see in "Lost In America''
by San Francisco author Marilyn Sachs.
Sachs continues the story
of young Nicole Nieman, begun in "A Pocket Full of Seeds."
A French Jew, Nicole is left to fend for herself after the Germans
round up her mother, father and sister.
with admiration and affection and particular authenticity.
That's because the fictional Nicole is modeled after her real-life
friend of more than 30 years, Fanny Krieger, also of San Francisco.
Covering the years 1943 to 1948, this long-awaited sequel recaps
past events, follows the teenage Nicole as she survives the war,
learns the fate of her family and moves to America to begin anew.
Nicole's American cousins candidly and not glowingly. Could
they really have been so heartless? Sachs shows how tough it is
for a war- weary girl from Aix-les-Bains to adjust to life in the
Bronx. Could America really have been so innocent?
the emotional wounds of wartime experience along with the
boundless trajectory of postwar optimism. It is fun to see
how, in the details of everyday life, Nicole sets out to
be a real American girl. She acquires new skills (English and typing),
new clothes (pointy bras, a twinset and nylon stockings) and new
aspirations (dating non-nerds and getting her own place).
The title alludes to
a key theme: what it means to be without a home and what it takes
to make a new one. Nicole's efforts to accomplish that reflect another
theme: the resilience of the human spirit. Thus, Sachs adds
to Holocaust literature a novel that has a sad beginning but ends
on a hopeful note.
Susan Faust is a librarian
at San Francisco's Katherine Delmar Burke School.
from BOOKS INC.
Lost in America,
wants nothing more than to be a “real American girl,”
but the memories of her family, taken by the Nazis and killed at
Auschwitz, continue to haunt her as she struggles to make a new
life for herself in a strange land.
Bay Area author, Marilyn
Sachs, tells the story of a determined, resourceful girl, based
on the life of her own real-life friend. Lost in America
is a book you will long remember.
Set just after World
War II, Lost In America is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl
who has come to America from France. She likes ordinary pleasures
such as banana splits, eating chocolate, her warm red coat, and
a boyfriend she met on a double date. But her aunt pressures her
to take up smoking to become a "real American girl", and
making a new life for herself in a strange land offers greater challenges
every turn., and memories of losing her family to the murderous
campaign of the Nazis haunt her. A moving story about coming
of age from Marilyn Sachs, author of more than thirty-five award-winning
books and coeditor of the acclaimed "The Big Book for Peace".
From School Library Journal
Grade 5 Up–This
sequel to A Pocket Full of Seeds (Penguin, 1994)
begins with the last night the 13-year-old French protagonist sees
her family alive. Coming home after a sleepover, Nicole Nieman finds
her apartment ransacked and discovers that the Gestapo has seized
her parents and little sister. Terrified and alone, she is forced
to seek out an estranged aunt who agrees to keep her. After the
occupation ends in 1944, Nicole is uncomfortable living with her
aunt and chooses to board at school, where she is reunited with
Rosette, another Jewish girl. Though Rosette's father tells horror
stories of the camps, Nicole remains optimistic. Nevertheless, she
gets the tragic news that her family did not survive Auschwitz.
Devastated, she decides to move to America and live with cousins
in the Bronx. Her relatives never make her feel welcome, and Nicole,
who is now 17, must get a job and make a future for herself. Most
of the book deals with Nicole's adjustment to life in the United
States, and the first-person narrative does a good job of expressing
her feelings of alienation, her loneliness, and her unwavering determination
to remain true to herself and to the memory of her beloved family.
Like Livia Bitton-Jackson's memoir, Hello, America (S & S, 2005),
this is a moving coming-of-age story of a courageous girl.–Barbara
Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier
Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 5-8. Whether dealing
with the harrowing story of a Holocaust survivor or with the daily
details of trying to be a real American girl, Sachs' story, based
on the real-life experience of a Jewish teenager, unfolds quietly.
In 1943 Nicole, 14, is at a friend's when the Gestapo arrests her
family in her small French town. After the war she waits for their
return, until, in an absolutely unforgettable scene, a weeping survivor
tells Nicole that her parents and baby sister died in Auschwitz.
At 17, Nicole emigrates to join relatives in the Bronx--not that
they really want her--and she struggles to find work, friends, and
a home of her own. The history is authentic; in fact, there may
be too much about how Nicole shops, talks, and dates. It's the big
picture that leaves the deepest impression, revealing that many
Americans felt untouched by the war and didn't want to know about
it. Without rhetoric, this novel ensures that readers learn
the real history.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
story began with A Pocket Full of Seeds
Full of Seeds
a French Jew, during the second World War, must learn to cope after
her parents and sister are captured by the Nazis, and sent to a
concentration camp. A harrowing account of life for a child in hiding
during the Holocaust.