I wish I had read this before Anat Talshir’s About the Night. I feel like I would have understood it better. While this book begins in Russia, it’s essentially about all the things the Jews were doing to get their own nation again. Here’s the back cover:
Sweeping from Russia to Jerusalem, from New York to Nazi-occupied Germany, and finally to Israel, this is the richly layered story of an extraordinary woman whose epic struggle mirrors the battle of an emerging nation to forge its own identity.
Chavala Rabinsky is 16 when her mother dies and she becomes the caretaker of her five siblings. Beautiful and wise beyond her years, Chavala catches the eye of Dovid Landau, a poor cobbler whose dreams transform her life when he marries her. But Odessa, Russia, is a dangerous place in 1905. The Landaus flee the pogroms of their homeland for Ottoman-ruled Palestine – until escalating violence forces the family to become wanderers again.
Rich in passion and scope, No Time for Tears sounds a call of love and liberation that will ring out for generations to come.
Freeman brilliantly uses a single family to give the reader a complete picture of what was happening in the world to all the Jews. It primarily focuses on the life and points of view of Chavala and Dovid.
Chavala is the eldest sister of four sisters and a brother. She feels a responsibility for the whole family, which is understandable, given the events of the first chapter. Dovid, on the other hand, feels his greatest responsibility is to Israel and doing everything in his power to attempt to convince any empire to create the State of Israel. Though Dovid himself is fictional, I’m sure that the creation of Israel is due to real men out there who had the dedication and determination of this character. Overall, I loved the book. Each of the five sisters were different and they had their problems. Like sisters do. They also had problems within their families that they sometimes shared and sometimes didn’t with each other. No one went completely unscathed by life, which is realistic. The one brother also had good and bad times. Each of the siblings start with opinions and ideas of the world that change and grow as circumstances and conflict destroy those ideas. Each goes through life changing events and are realistically changed.It also didn’t end with too neat a bow, but was still a happy ending.
The book covers a lot of time and a lot of places. The way that Freeman manages to cover all of this is just amazing. She depends on the reader to know of the more popularized world events such as the Holocaust and the Great Depression, so she doesn’t do much more than refer to them as things that are going on. Then she tells you where everyone sits with this events, bringing them in but not feeling the need to get into how they went down. The how isn’t as important as recognizing that these events shaped the characters and that most people know exactly what has happening during these times. The Holocaust was mostly covered from the point of view of Israel as a set of settlements in Palestine yearning to be a state which I had never seen before. It wasn’t even until recently that I had been made aware that there had been Jews living in Israel/Palestine prior to WWII. I get how ridiculous it sounds, but I just didn’t get that part in high school history class. I originally got it from another book.
No Time For Tears presents the history that I missed in About the Night and some events even overlap and show a different point of view that explains events in About the Night. If you plan on reading them, do so together and read this one first. Given how much I enjoyed them, I definitely recommend reading both.
This was one of my Read Harder 2016 books, A book originally published in the decade you were born. This was published in 1981, the year I was born. Check out the rest of my shelf, only two more to go!