The Sweetness

Available

Description

A Foreward Reviews Indie Fab 2014 Finalist for Book of the Year

A. L. A. Sophie Brody Award 2014 nominee

Early in The Sweetness, an inquisitive young girl asks her grandmother why she is carrying nothing but a jug of sliced lemons and water when they are forced by the Germans to evacuate their ghetto. "Something sour to remind me of the sweetness," she tells her, setting the theme for what they must remember to survive. Set during World War II, the novel is the parallel tale of two Jewish girls, cousins, living on separate continents, whose strikingly different lives ultimately converge. Brooklyn-born Mira Kane is the eighteen-year-old daughter of a well-to-do manufacturer of women's knitwear in New York. Her cousin, eight-year-old Rosha Kaninsky, is the lone survivor of a family in Vilna exterminated by the invading Nazis. But unbeknownst to her American relatives, Rosha did not perish. Desperate to save his only child during a round-up of their ghetto, her father thrusts her into the arms of a Polish Catholic candle maker, who then hides her in a root cellar─putting her own family at risk. The headstrong and talented Mira, who dreams of escaping Brooklyn for a career as a fashion designer, finds her ambitions abruptly thwarted when, traumatized at the fate of his European relatives, her father becomes intent on safeguarding his loved ones from threats of a brutal world, and all the family must challenge his unuttered but injurious survivor guilt. Though the American Kanes endure the experience of the Jews who got out, they reveal how even in the safety of our lives, we are profoundly affected by the dire circumstances of others.

Product Details

Price
$16.95  $15.59
Publisher
She Writes Press
Publish Date
September 23, 2014
Pages
307
Dimensions
5.51 X 0.71 X 8.5 inches | 0.89 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781631529078
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

After two decades as a scriptwriter and video/film producer for Fortune 500 companies, Sande Boritz Berger returned to writing fiction and non-fiction full time. For years she attended The Writer's Voice in NYC and writing conferences at Stony Brook Southampton College, where she once got lost driving Joyce Carol Oates to a dinner in her honor. Ms. Berger's stories and essays appear in a multitude of publications, including Every Woman Has a Story (Warner Books), Ophelia's Mom (Crown) and Aunties: Thirty-Five Writers Celebrate Their Other Mother (Ballantine). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in the Southampton Review, Confrontation Literary Review, Tri-Quarterly Magazine, Epiphany, and other publications. She received first place in the Winthrop B. Palmer Poetry awards at Long Island University, and her short story from which this novel evolved, "The Sweetness," received a fiction prize from Moment Magazine. The Sweetness was a semi-finalist in Amazon's annual Breakthrough Novel Awards. Ms. Berger has taught creative writing as a volunteer at NYU's Medical Center Rusk Institute's pediatric division and recently completed an MFA in Writing and Literature at Stony Brook Southampton College. In 2010 she received the college's Deborah Hecht Memorial prize for fiction.

Reviews

"[A] stirring debut novel of Holocaust survivor guilt--guilt about being safe. Told with candor and tenderness ..."
--Booklist

"A Jewish girl in Eastern Europe and her teenage American cousin experience the Holocaust years in vastly different ways in this bittersweet novel... A tender look at immigrants in America and Nazi victims in Europe succeeds in educating and engaging readers."
--Kirkus

"[The Sweetness] is a beautifully crafted portrait of life in its rawest form during a time of great unrest."
--Publishers Weekly, Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards

"As Berger's novel moves back and forth from Vilna to Brooklyn, the focus is on Rosha and Mira as well as on Charlie's sister Jeanette. All three attempt to make sense of a life that often makes no sense at all. VERDICT: In this engaging debut, a semifinalist for Amazon's annual Breakthrough Novel Award, readers gain three different views of the effects of World War II on ordinary people."
--Library Journal

"Sande Boritz Berger's impressive debut novel examines the lives of two Jewish girls, cousins separated by an ocean and connected by brutal world events. Ms. Berger doesn't shrink from the rough history that informs her heroines' lives, but she mitigates its harshness with a deep measure of sympathy and hope."
--Hilma Wolitzer, author of An Available Man

"Sande Boritz Berger has created a complete, rich novel about survivor guilt and innocence. The guilt is readily understood. The innocence is an original thought. How are people who survived the Nazis supposed to know how to behave in the face of unique evil? The Kanes (Kaninskys) endured the general experience of Jews who got out. But within that experience, they are also a family of complicated individuals, who pursue differentiated goals. It is this--their individuality, not unlike that of the Anne Frank family--that gives Ms. Berger's novel its power as a work of art."
--Roger Rosenblatt, author of The Boy Detective

"Ms. Berger has captured the essence of conflict between survivor guilt and the innocence of youth as she compares the circumstances between one family's choice to stay as the other flees. While the tone is not maudlin, Berger's voice resonates across the pages with a deep and soulful pain as she depicts the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Vilna Ghetto. It is clear she did her research given she infused historical information and tied her story line to actual events with the backdrop of an epically tragic time in history."
--Diane Lunsford, Feathered Quill Reviews

"It is always pleasant to read an author who can take you back to the past with minute details that cause you to revive faded memories. Sande Boritz Berger does this for Americans who lived during the 1940s by recalling items such as the monthly magazine Modern Screen, one of the first journals to record the private lives of movie stars, mascara which came in cake form and had to be applied with a wet brush, and cut glass doorknobs. She used these touches to set the scene for life in a residential middle class section of Brooklyn as well as for contrast of the superficial lives of Americans who were untouched (or thought they were) by World War II and those who terrifyingly lived through it in Poland. Berger tells the story of two girls, Mira, a teen living in a large house on Avenue T in Brooklyn and Rosha, an eight-year-old, living in the basement of a stranger's house in Poland. These two are cousins who have never met. And the suspense leading up to when their lives will intersect is kept up throughout the book."
--Jewish Book World

"Original characters, against a backdrop of vivid and exact period detail, drive this highly readable saga of two uniquely different Jewish girls and their families during World War II. Warm, rich, and smooth as glass, their stories sweep over you and into your heart. A solid read for devotees of WWII literature, as much for its retelling of the ravages of the Holocaust as for its insightful vision of a home front population shaken by shock waves from abroad."
--Mary Glickman, author of Home in the Morning