History and our families can often come together in strange ways.
The 2014 book, The Sweetness, by Sande Boritz Berger is about two cousins living an ocean and a life apart.
Rosha is an eight year girl who has the unfortunate luck of fate to be a Jewish girl in Vilna in 1941. With the noose becoming ever tighter around her and her family, her father makes a split second decision. Handing his daughter to a Christian neighbor, he disappears. Rosha is the only member of her immediate family to survive the Nazi onslaught, unbeknownst to her American relations. Across the Atlantic, Rosha’s older cousin Mira is living the life of a carefree American teenager. Dreaming of becoming a fashion designer to the stars, Mira is not happy when her father reacts to the news of his family overseas by pulling her out of school. Moving in between Rosha and Mira’s stories, Ms. Berger tells the story of two cousins and how their lives will eventually intersect.
I found the premise of this book to very interesting. The author has an excellent eye for detail, especially period detail. And for readers like myself, who are from or know South Brooklyn, the book provides a sense of comfort with physical locations of the scenes. That is where my comfort as a reader ends.
I have two major problems with the book. The first is that about 2/3 of the way into the book, I lost a sense of who the protagonists were. I found too much emphasis on the secondary characters instead of focusing on the primary characters. I also found the ending to be rather emotionless, as opposed to the emotions I expected to feel about a book with this subject.
Do I recommend this book? Up until the book started going down hill, I would have said yes. After that, I would say no.