This moving historical novel is alternately painful and inspiring.
By Hannah Klein
The main character, Boris Kominsky, obtains a precious visa to Bolivia through a benefactor, Moritz (Mauricio) Hochschild. Meanwhile, Boris’ defiant father, a physician, and the rest of his family choose to remain in Poland.
The author, Veronica Ormachea, uses dialogue as an expository device to acquaint the reader with the dilemma confronting the Jews of Europe in the face of Nazi persecution: whether to face an uncertain future in a strange country or an equally uncertain future in their familiar surroundings. The haunting picture of victims’ shoes portrayed on the book’s cover evokes the exhibit of shoes at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“These shoes are iconic symbols of the Holocaust, since they are personal and each represents an innocent life,” said Sara J. Bloomfield, Museum director. By crafting this engrossing story as a novel, rather than a factual account, Ormachea is able to approach the characters intimately, to fill in missing details in their respective points of view. Despite the almost-certain fate of Europe’s Jews, she maintains suspense throughout the book, until the surprise ending.