Signs of Survival: A Memoir of the Holocaust Book Review

If we are lucky, the bond that we have with our siblings is one that is strong. In certain circumstances, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Signs of Survival: A Memoir of the Holocaust, was published at the beginning of the year. Written by Joshua M. Greene and Renee Hartman, the memoir is the story of how Renee and her sister, Herta survived the Holocaust. Renee was both the ears and the voice for her family as both her parents and Herta were deaf.

Before the war, life was relatively normal. Everything changed when the girls were separated from their mother and father. With a target on their back due to their Jewish faith, their only choice was to find a safe place to hide. But they were soon caught and sent to Bergen-Belsen. With death all around them, the sisters turned to each other, hoping that would be enough to stay alive.

Told in an oral history format, this book speaks to the strength of two young girls who could have easily given up. But in turning to one another, they found the spark that allowed them to pull through and live. Though the main audience is young readers, the impact of this experience is not on an adult who might pick up this book. Though we know that both Renee and Herta survived, that journey to liberation is fraught with danger and suspense.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.


The Eternals Movie Review

*This review is strictly based on the movie as I have never read the comic books.

It would be easy to categorize a superhero movie based on a comic book as all action and no heart. But without that heart, it is nothing but a series of fights between the heroes and the villains.

The Eternals hit theaters a few weeks ago. This latest film adaptation from Marvel Comics tells the story of a group of otherwordly beings whose job it is to protect and nuture humanity. The big bad are deviants, creatures who are not selective about who and what they kill. After thousands of years, these alien superheroes have blended into the world around them, looking no different than you or I.

When their leader, Ajak (Salma Hayek) is killed by a deviant, Sersi (Gemma Chan) takes her place and does her best to bring the team back together. But when the secret about the true nature of their mission is revealed, it creates conflict between Sersi, Ikarus (Richard Madden), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), and the rest of the Eternals.

The film clocks in about 2 1/2 hours. Thankfully, it does not feel that long. What I think makes it well done is that the narrative is not just about physical entaglments between the antagonists and the protaganists. There is heart, there is humor, and the message about what it is to be human is threaded throughout the story.

Much has been naturally made about the diversity of the cast. Personally, I think it’s a long time coming. Though I loved Avengers: Endgame, the reality is that the majority of the lead characters are white and male. One could argue that the one scene that all of the female superheroes come together is merely lip service instead of naturally giving these women the spotlight beyond the traditional female narratives.

Including an LGBTQ character, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), and a deaf character, Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), was a nice addition. It proved that this world can be open to a wider range of types of people, if only given the chance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Eternals is presently in theaters.

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