Monday, March 15, 2010

Four Perfect Pebbles, by Lila Perl and Marion Blumenthal Lazan

* Note- the full title is Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story.

Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust StoryFor many years now, I have had an indescribable draw to the Holocaust, particularly to reading survivors' stories. It will be a reoccurring theme you see in my reviews. I love to read survivor stories in all forms, which is why I am choosing to review a Young Adult book.

The story is about the Blumenthal family, and the six and a half years they struggled during the Holocaust, as well as their struggle for a normal post war life. We learn about the early events of the Holocaust, such as Kristallnacht, in a very personal, emotional way, easy for a child to understand, but with enough impact to affect an adult as well. We learn about the family's attempts to flee Germany, and various plans they made, only to be thwarted by the advancement of the German Army's invasions. We learn of the motivation to stay alive while the family was imprisoned in the concentration camps, the promise of liberation, and the disappointments that met after liberation occurred.

When dealing with a topic as sensitive in nature as the Holocaust, writing for young adults can be difficult. The author does not want to gloss over the details, or insult the intelligence of the young reader, but also a line must be drawn to make sure the content is not for purely sensational or shock value. I think this book was extremely well written for its intended audience, but also still had impact on me as an adult. I have read many books on Holocaust survivors, but this one definitely stood out to me. I would like to see more books on this topic, written in this manner, for this audience. I know I would have devoured them if they had been available when I was younger.

One of the most beautiful things about this book is the metaphor from which the title is derived. While in Bergen-Belsen, Marion convinces herself that if she can find four perfect pebbles, identical in nature, it means that her family will survive their ordeal. This symbol is one of the only things from which she can draw strength, and the impression is indelible.

While preparing to write this blog, I discovered that Marion Blumenthal Lazan has a website, focusing on this book. I strongly encourage all readers of this blog, particularly parents and/or educators who are interested in using this book to impart knowledge to their children or students to visit her website, Four Perfect Pebbles. There is a wealth of additional information there, on lessons our children desperately need to learn.

This book is from my personal library.