A powerful story that exalts the strength of the human spirit.


Max Beissinger and Hanna Ginsburg fall in love, but their relationship is destined for heartache when Hitler comes to power and outlaws marriage between Germans and Jews.

Max, a bookstore owner, stumbles across Hanna playing her violin at the Lyceum and is smitten. Hanna takes care of her sick mother and practices her instrument in hopes of earning a place in an orchestra. She conceals her growing affair with Max from her mother and sister, who would not approve of her dating outside the Jewish faith. Max has a secret, something he discovers in a journal his father kept, that causes him to suddenly vanish, often for months at a time, telling no one where he is going or where he has been. Hanna breaks off their engagement because of Max’s disappearances, but Max believes his secret can save Hanna should the fraught political climate take a turn for the worse as Hitler continues to rise in power. One evening, when he and Hanna are at his bookstore, Nazis bash the door open. Max grabs Hanna to secure her in a hidden closet, but she breaks away and rushes back for her violin. The Nazis grab them both, and they are separated. The next thing Hanna knows, she awakens in a field, not remembering the events of the past 10 years. Max, who had a mysterious glimpse of the future, knows she must be alive and works to find her. Cantor propels readers back and forth from the 1930s to the '50s in this well-researched historical novel, showing how the past impacted the future, including the secret of Hanna’s lost decade. Readers may want to urge Max to confess his secret to Hanna...but then there would be no story. Cantor elevates love as a powerful force that transcends tragedy and shows how music speaks to even the cruelest hearts.

A powerful story that exalts the strength of the human spirit.

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-286332-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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