Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day After Night

by Anita Diamant

After loving The Red Tent, I was excited to pick up Day After Night by Anita Diamant. The book tells the migration story of a group of young women who join the Zionisht movement to Israel after World War II and the Balfour Declaration. This was a new topic for me and I learned a great deal about the settling of modern Israel. For example, when first arriving in Israel the girls were all put in camps run by the British. This seems a rather ludicrous idea after many of the settlers had just been released from German concentration camps. The camps however were clean, there was plenty of food and many educational opportunities from learning Hebrew to organizing political events.

The bulk of the story follows 4 young women as they try to settle in Israel. Their reasons and goals for coming to Israel are just as varied as their backgrounds. Diamant develops these characters so well, that you can visualize not only the physical characteristics of each girl, but also the psychological scars each bears.

The reasons people came to settle Israel were so varied. There were many staunch Zionists -- many who had fought for a Jewish homeland long before World War II. There were many who were non-religious and viewed Israel as an ethnic country rather than a religious one. There were also many who came because they had no where else to go -- they had lost everything and everyone to the Germans, so they came to Israel to start over.

This was a quick, light read, which I was not expecting given the subject. I expected more emotion and depth to the total story, but it was truly rather passive, almost as if they story, like the Jewish suriviors of the war, was tired. The story also mimics the holding pattern the settlers are in once they arrive. They wait in the camps until someone sponsors them or the British/Israeli government assigns them to the kibbutz.

This book fascinated me. I learned so much about the settlement of modern day Israel, how the settlers were treated, their reasons for coming and how the British were overwhelmed by the numbers of refugees coming to the new country. This is a great book to read if, especially like me, you love World War II novels.

Rating - B

1 comment:

  1. You make this one sound great - I'll keep an eye out for it! I still haven't read The Red Tent - it's been sitting here for months. your blog looks gerat - new background, I think, since the last time I visited. I always just read on my Google Reader without clicking through to the actual blog - the lazy way!