The Best Novels On Post-Holocaust Coming Of Age Fiction

The Books I Picked & Why

Escaping the Whale: The Holocaust is over. But is it ever over for the next generation?

By Ruth Rotkowitz

Escaping the Whale: The Holocaust is over. But is it ever over for the next generation?

Why this book?

I chose this book because it was the first book I read that dealt with the issue of the second generation in a way that was immediately intimate and personal. Set in the eighties, Marcia Gold struggles with the connection and disconnection of people around her toward the events. The challenge of her job as a guidance counselor in helping young girls make decisions, her peer's attitude toward her role, including her boyfriend Jason, all add to her lingering anger, resentment, unexplained dreams, and nightmares. At the end of the story, Marcia decides to rid herself of her demons, the scarring of her parent's history as Holocaust survivors, and move on to redefining herself. Escaping The Whale is honest and genuine.


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The Whale Surfaces: Prequel to Escaping The Whale

By Ruth Rotkowitz

The Whale Surfaces: Prequel to Escaping The Whale

Why this book?

After reading Escaping The Whale, I was eager to meet Marcia Gold as a young girl. Here again, Ruth Rotkowitz does not disappoint. The desires and dreams of Holocaust survivors for their children to have an innocent and happy childhood are not always possible. Marcia, a young girl in the 1960's experiences the impact of her parent's history and the complications they bring to the anxiety of adolescence and the emotional problems that will be part of her life in the future.


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The Takeaway Men

By Meryl Ain

The Takeaway Men

Why this book?

Takeaway Men is a novel that proves once again that you can never forget. Aron and Judy Lubinski and their twin daughters, Bronka and Johanna, leave a Displaced Person Camp in Poland and immigrate to America, hoping to build a new life and escape the horrors of the Holocaust behind them. Through the kindness of Izzy, a cousin that immigrated earlier to America, they settle in Izzy and his wife, Faye's home in Queens, NY. In their neighborhood, we meet other immigrants, survivors, all working hard to build a better life for themselves and their children. Each of the other characters has a different story. They bring another perception of how people try to deal with the experiences of loss, trauma, doubt, and everyday complexities of life. We see this most clearly in the inner thoughts of Aron and Judy. Their struggle is, at times, painful and sorrowful and affects their daughters and those around them. For me, it is Bronka and Johanna that is the real story. The way they see their father's silence, lack of joy for anything, their mother trying to make it all right, the awareness of secrets of not only their parents but those around them, the feeling of doubt, desire to rebel are uniquely different for each of them. There are too few novels that write about the challenges of children of survivors growing up. Takeaway Men does. It is an essential part of the literature of post-holocaust coming-of-age fiction.


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