Fiction — print. Scribner, 2009. 295 pgs. Library copy.
Based on the true story of the October 1945 escape of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for illegal immigrants to Palestine run by the British military north of Haifa, the story is told through the eyes of four young women at the camp. All of them are survivors of the Holocaust, but each of the women choose to deal with the haunting memories and the lost of their entire families differently as they attempt to settled Palestine into Israel.
After a while, all four of them women as well as the other women they come into contact with in Atlit began to run together and became increasingly difficult to separate in my head. The Holocaust is such a major part of the life of these women, but it seems that all choose to deal with the loss of their family and friends the same way — not talk about it. Therefore, the characters come across as sketchy and lacking depth. Not a lot of character development, for sure. There is also quite a bit of jumping around from one Jewish holiday to another in the setting of the narrative, which was supposed to stretch out the time they spend in the camp but it still felt like their arrival was yesterday.
For a book about the Atlit internment camp, the book spends a lot of time delving into the operations of the camp and the fear surrounding who might possibly be let it (Jews who helped the Nazis, Nazis posing as Jews in order to escape prosecution, Gentiles who aided the Nazis and took advantage of the prosecution of Jews for their own gain) as it discusses how the Jews are going to rightfully take back what is theirs and how the Arabs have wasted the land. But the escape aspect the book is supposed to be based upon isn’t until the very end of the book and has very little to do with the main characters of the novel.