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12 January 2011

Esther's Child, Jean Sasson

Every Tribe And Nation Has Been Oppressed; Every Tribe And Nation Have Been Oppressors.....

Esther's Child is a moving novel which chronicles the history of four families whose lives are directly and indirectly affected by the Jewish Holocaust.  The Stein family from Warsaw, Poland are Hasidim Jews, and their daughter, Esther, meets Joseph Gale, son of the secular Jewish Gale family while visiting family in Paris, France, in 1937.  Their eventual marriage unites these two families to face the unspeakable acts perpetrated against Jews during the Holocaust. 

Frederich Kleist left Berlin, Germany, a 19-year old newly made SS Officer, but returned a much older, haunted man.  A bizarre twist of fate allows him, through his child, to seek redemption from his guilt and begin healing in his own family.  His German wife, Eva, struggles to understand Frederich's guilt, as she suffered greatly under the hands of Russian soldiers in the war's aftermath. 

The Antoun family, Palestinian Arabs, flee Israel to the Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon to escape their war torn homeland, however their flight prevents them from ever returning to their homeland.  Reduced from relative comfort to abject poverty, Demetrius Antoun learns to hate the Jews, whom he sees as the oppressors, and the Lebanese, who don't want the Palestinian refugees in their land either.  Strangely, one fateful act committed in haste years before and revealed much later will cause Demetrius to question his entire existence, his perceptions of good and evil, love and hate, family and belonging.

Jean Sasson's novel, Esther's Child, was difficult to put down.  A powerful story of love and hate, defeat and triumph, and finding one's place in this often cruel and chaotic world, Sasson's book weaves through Pre-War Europe, World War II, the advent of the Jewish State, the rise of the PLO, the 1982 Beirut invasion, and beyond as these four families live the history that continues to divide people today.  Each family's story is both heartwarming and tragic, and Sasson was decently fair in her portrayal of each side of the issue.  I'll stop at that, as this Broad is well read and a bit zealous about this topic.  This is a novel, not an historical account.

Well worth reading, I recommend Esther's Child wholeheartedly.  The only problem I encountered was in the author's ending.  It was a bit melodramatic for a story already written around the dramatic events listed above.  I otherwise quite enjoyed it.


1 comment:

  1. Hi! This is Jean Sasson. I'm so glad that you liked ESTHER'S CHILD. I wanted to tell you that it is being re-released under the title of LOST IN JERUSALEM and also that I'm currently working on a screenplay... Did you know that during the 1948 war that in the confusion, around 50 children were lost (not killed, lost). I've always wondered: Who raised those kids? How many Arab children were raised by Jews and how many Jewish kids raised by Arabs. Something to think about! Thanks, again.


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