Book Club Bloggers: A Little Honesty

Book Club Blogger day is here once again. And will you look at that? I'm posting my review ON TIME. Someone mark this date down. Even in a week of veritable silence around A Foreign Land, I am managing to publish my review on schedule. (Look, I have to congratulate myself. Deal with it.)

Moving on to the review...

Guys, can I be honest with you? When I realized this book was a Holocaust story I was a little bit disappointed. Not because I don't see the value in all 20 hundred Holocaust stories that are out there. But more because I feel they're a little bit, "Been there. Done that." Is that callous honest enough for you? There have been and continue to be so many atrocious incidences of genocide in our world and I wonder why oh why the only one that I really ever hear about is the Holocaust. I mean, even the fact that I use the term "Holocaust" and the first thing that enters your mind is the Nazi occupation during the Second World War says something. So well covered is this horrific tragedy, it has taken the little "h" holocaust word to capital "H" Holocaust status.

It's true. I found myself thinking, "Another concentration camp story?"  (And that my friend's is transparency. Bring on the hate mail.)

Because I found Jane Yolen's book to be mildly entertaining, short and easy to read however, I finished it without further complaint. I'll admit it offered a bit of different take on the period than I'm accustomed to. By inserting a modern day character into a concentration camp, Hannah was able to experience the atrocity with eyes more like my own. Even her initial boredom and distaste for her family's Seder rituals mirrored my own boredom with the book's subject matter. This meant by the end, my heart was more pricked than it might have otherwise been by the telling of this tragic tale. Although, I could argue I was feeling guilty rather than genuinely moved. I mean really - what kind of a heartless automaton is "bored" by a Holocaust story?

In summation, I would say that another book about the Holocaust obviously would not have been what I would have chosen to read if left to my own devices. However, if books like Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic can be tools to begin discussions about The Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda I say, "Keep 'em coming." Frank discussions about these tragedies GOING ON RIGHT NOW are indeed a first step in preventing further hidden slaughters like the one experienced by Hanna, her family and the countless victims of the Nazi regime.

For more bloggers (hopefully less heartless) takes on The Devil's Arithmetic, check out Charlotte's blog The Daily Snapshot.