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I received this book for review from the publisher through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. The book was published in February and I, of course, shelved the book until long after the publication data. I am apparently not that great at reading advanced review copies.
There’s something almost magical about this book. With Hitler’s army barring down on them, the residents of a remote Jewish village in Romania decide to reset the world and start over from the beginning. Relationships are reset; our narrator, an eleven-year-old girl, is reassign to another family to be their daughter, to be their baby. Genesis begins anew. For a while the dream manages to sustain them. The young girl grows up and becomes a wife and mother. Yet like all good dreams, the residents are forced to wake up and face the new world, and the younger mother must flee to save herself, her children, and her husband.
The same magic surrounding this book is what keeps the reader so distant. This new world is built for the eleven-year-old girl, for her aunt and uncle, for her parents and neighbors. It is not for the reader and while I always felt that sense of magic surrounding me, I never could catch hold of these characters.
This is especially true after Lena and the others go one the run. I lost track of them, lost my footing along the way. The psychological damage inflicted on Lena, our narrator, even before the war warps her perception of reality. An eleven-year-old forced to be a baby? A twelve-year-old who marries and becomes a mother? She’s wrapped up in her own naivety because she’s still a child.
Yet all the characters have a warped perception, all of them are naive, and it’s hard to keep track of people who are referred to by their occupation rather than names or personalities. The book is foggy. The end is bittersweet.
- Ausubel, Ramona. No One is Here Except All of Us. New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. Print. 336 pgs. ISBN: 9781594487941. Source: Advanced review copy.