“The characters are crisply differentiated, superb illustrations help us relate to them, and suspense runs high.”
CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, Cathi I. White
Twelve year-old Nessya discovers a family secret that no one knows—until now. Her grandmother, Miri Eneman Malz, is a survivor of the Holocaust. Nessya is curious and wants to know everything about her grandmother’s experience. Grandmother Miri reveals her story through a pile of letters that were written by her family during the Holocaust. This mesmerizing story starts with Miri’s family, including her parents and three sisters, wondering what was going to happen when the Germans invade their homeland of Hungary in 1944. Surrounded by hatred and threats, Miri’s family has to find a way to be safe. The Germans are capturing the Jewish people and holding them in ghettoes. Their rights and freedoms are stripped. Miri’s father, Naftuli, uses his ingenuity and resources to get fake papers and documents time and time again throughout the story. The family is separated, except for Miri, who is twelve at the time and stays with her parents. Readers will be captivated as they learn about what the Eneman family went through. One of the sisters is captured, a daring escape with the help of an enemy occurs, and their true identities may be found out. Danger and excitement exist on every page. Based on actual memoirs, readers will learn of the bravery, courage, intelligence, and unfailing love within the Eneman family. The black-and-white, exquisitely drawn illustrations reveal the characters’ feelings and pull the reader into the story. This enthralling book will be an asset in the history classroom when studying World War II and the Holocaust. Ages 9 to 12
Canadian portrait artist McGaw contributes a sensitive full-page illustration for each of the 14 chapters. The book was first published in 2006 in Israel, which serves as the setting for Nessya’s first-person narrative. Because she is learning about her grandmother’s experiences along with readers, a good deal of history can be included in a natural-sounding way without interrupting the flow of the storytelling.
READERS' FAVORITE, 5 STARS, Jack Magnus
Escape in Time is a young adult historical novel written by Ronit Lowenstein-Malz, translated by Leora Frankel and illustrated by Laurie McGaw.
Nessya is a young Israeli whose best friend, Rachel, has given her some unbelievable information: Nessya's grandmother, Miri Malz, has been invited to speak at their school's Holocaust Remembrance Day program. Nessya knew that Rachel's grandparents had been in the Holocaust, but she couldn't believe that her beautiful and successful grandmother was also there. Rachel suggests that they do a search in her grandmother's apartment to look for photos of her from when she was young. If there are no such photos, then, Rachel believes, it must be true: Miri Malz must be a survivor. After some unsuccessful investigating in Miri's apartment, Nessya finally asks her grandmother about the Holocaust. After staying confined to her apartment for two weeks to write down her memories, Miri begins her story about her childhood in Munkacs, Czechoslovakia (later, Hungary). Before she returns to her apartment, Miri gives Nessya the pile of her handwritten pages—her family’s survival story—and a packet of wartime letters. It's Nessya's bat mitzvah gift, and it's a story she will never forget.
Ronit Lowenstein-Malz's young adult historical fiction novel, Escape in Time, presents a unique and compelling insight into the lives of those Jews who survived the Holocaust, particularly those who lived in the small villages of Hungary and in Budapest. I found myself so deeply involved in Miri's story of her far-sighted father, Apu, and his brilliant strategies for keeping his family safe and alive. This story stirs such deep and mixed emotions; there's the triumph of this one resilient family, but also the pain of the loss of so many aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers, cousins and brothers. Escape in Time is a fictional account, written by the daughter of one of the narrators, Miri Malz; it is based upon actual memoirs of Miri's family members. Seventy years later, Apu's grandchildren and great-grandchildren live on and the world is a far better place for having them be a part of it. Escape in Time is a marvelous historical novel, and it is most highly recommended."
READERS' FAVORITE, 5 STARS, Marnie Wilson
Escape in Time by Ronit Lowenstein-Malz is a historical novel based on actual events that happened to a Jewish family in the small country town of Munkacs, Czechoslovakia (later Hungary), and in the capital city of Budapest, Hungary, during World War II and the Holocaust. Unimaginable and horrifying events for the Eneman family began in earnest in the spring of 1944 in Munkacs, which up until that time was relatively untouched by the atrocities of the war being raged elsewhere in Europe. Very quickly the realities of Hitler’s Nazi regime began infiltrating the town, upending the world of its Jewish inhabitants. Forced to consider the options and likely outcomes, patriarch father Naftuli made dangerous, but thankfully, life-saving decisions. The youngest family member, daughter Miri, lived through the terrifying ordeal and later became grandmother Miri to 12-year-old Nessya. Escape in Time is told through the eyes of Naftuli’s great-granddaughter Nessya, and through the letters and memories of which grandmother Miri became steward, and preserved for her family’s descendants.
Escape in Time is a beautifully and intriguingly written re-telling of an awful period of time from a Hungarian Jewish family’s life that few of us can even begin to comprehend some 70 years later. Books like this that recount a time in human history so exceedingly reprehensible are important contributions to future generations to help ensure history does not repeat itself. I’m not sure we could ever hear enough stories about the Holocaust to truly imagine what life was like then. Escape in Time comes from an interesting vantage point, that of Hungarian Jews who managed to escape and hide, which I’ve never heard about before, thus making it a compelling read. Originally written in Hebrew for an Israeli audience, it has been translated into English very appropriately for a North American audience.
The illustrations by Laurie McGaw are breathtaking. Although I can’t claim to have read hundreds of young adult books, these are some of the most beautiful, captivating human depictions I’ve ever seen in any book. The medium chosen for the portraits is at once historical yet contemporary, a feat which cannot be easy to accomplish. The details the artist chose to include in each illustration are the perfect accompaniments to the major plot points. Each face depicted draws the reader in for contemplation. I found myself hanging back from moving on with the reading to ponder each and every illustration and all its finer points. This is rare for me and a real testament to the artist’s skill and absolute contribution to Escape in Time.
Escape in Time is categorized in the young adult genre, but I would suggest it is entirely appropriate and accessible for children as young as grades four to six. In the past six months I have read to my 11- and 13-year-old both The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place, and both children were able to understand and appreciate these books of greater length and more graphic details. Escape in Time is shorter than these two books, as well as devoid of grisly particulars of the Holocaust, and I believe it provides an important and gripping introduction to some of the realities of the Holocaust for younger children.
READERS' FAVORITE, 5 STARS, Brenda Casto Escape In Time By Ronit Lowenstein-Malz is the story of the Eneman family whose sheer determination, along with plenty of luck, allowed them to survive the Holocaust. What makes this a heartrending story is the fact that it is based on an actual family that lived through this horrible time in history. An emotionally charged story that is often suspenseful, but also provides small bits of humor, makes for a story with real life characters that aren't easy to forget once you finish the final page.
Nessya finds it almost impossible to believe that her grandma Miri is a survivor of the Holocaust, but her best friend Rachel is certain that she is because she overheard a conversation where it was suggested that Miri be invited to speak at the Holocaust Remembrance Day program. Nessi wants to ask her mom because surely she knows the truth, but Rachel reminds her that many families don't like to talk about it. Instead she convinces Nessi that they need to investigate and solve the mystery on their own. When that plan fails, they ask Nessi's mother anyway and she suggests that they talk to Grandma Miri. What will Nessi learn when she talks to her grandmother?
Ronit Lowenstein-Malz's characters literally jump from the pages of Escape In Time. She not only captures the fear and uncertainty that they felt, but also the hope and love that knits this family together. I found myself mesmerized by the telling of this story, so rich in detail that I honestly felt I was witnessing history take place. While we feel the emotions of the characters that survived the ordeal of the Holocaust, we are also allowed to see how the information impacts Nessya as she reads her grandmother's story. Reading the "diary letters" added a unique element to the telling of the tale by providing snippets of the family's daily struggles, showing how fate intervened on more than one occasion to keep them safe. Ms. Malz does a wonderful job of balancing detail and age-appropriate information together to make for an easy to understand, yet informative story that will appeal to young and old alike.
HEATHER A., REVIEWER 5 STARS: "Ronit Lowenstein-Malz's novel Escape in Time is wonderfully translated from Hebrew into English, and illustrated in a beautiful manner by Laurie McGraw. Set to publish April 2015, this young adult novel is based on real life events surrounding a Jewish-Hungarian family and their struggles during World War II.
"This wonderful narrative revolves around two main characters, Miri and Nessya. Nessya is a young Jewish girl living in modern day Tel Aviv with an understanding of the Holocaust, but no real connection to it. Miri is her grandmother who lived through the events of World War II as a young girl herself, but has kept this from Nessya. The story unfolds in a vivid and memorable way as Miri's recollections of the war and its horrors are brought to life.
"Although marketed to young adults, I believe it would be well suited to all ages as young as 12 and up. Young readers today will have no trouble understanding the events and details of Jewish-Hungarian life as Miri explains them to Nessya. Unlike many Holocaust novels, this one gives just enough detail to show what it was like to live through a war without becoming too morbidly gory and giving nightmares making it better suited as a first introduction to the events for young readers. It also shows the fighting spirit of Miri's family and what can be accomplished even in the darkest of times.
"Historical fiction such as this enriches our understanding of the past and helps to give clarity to the future. Encouraging younger generations to better understanding the past is how we can try to ensure that such events to not happen again."
ELLEN C, EDUCATOR 5 STARS: "Escape in Time tells the story of the Eneman family’s survival during the Holocaust. It begins in the present day, when 12-year-old Nessya discovers that her grandmother has a secret – she is a Holocaust survivor. Her grandmother Miri decides to write down her story and we read it with Nessya. Miri lived with her parents and three older sisters in a village in Hungary. However, in 1944, German soldiers enter Hungary and changes their lives forever. Miri’s father was infinitely clever and resourceful and eventually manages to get all six of them to Budapest, where they pose as Christians. The constant threat of exposure and multiple close calls make this book a total page-turner from start to finish.
"I loved this book and literally could not put it down. The characters are so real and the emotions so vivid that I was enthralled. I also really liked seeing how the story affects Nessya, and how it impacts her relationship with her grandmother. The book also includes letters and “diary letters”, many of which were written by Miri’s mother; these give more adult view of many of the events (since Miri was a child during the Holocaust).
"The story is very rich and detailed and is based on true events. It clearly is geared for kids, probably middle-schoolers on up, and there is nothing inappropriate for kids – nothing too graphic. But it is an excellent introduction to the Holocaust and a book that adults as well as children will enjoy.
I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review."
EMILY S., REVIEWER 5 STARS: "This was a fantastic book! My husband lived in Hungary for two years as a missionary and I loved talking about the events and places with him.
"When we think about the Holocaust and WWII, we primarily think about Germany, Poland, England, Austria, etc. Very little is said, and, therefore, generally known, about Hungary, but that country has a very interesting history. I loved learning about each member of the family. Naftuli, the father, was such an interesting character. He saw what was brewing and tried to warn others but most people didn't listen to him. I was amazed at his resourcefulness throughout the story. I loved the letters that Hendi, the mother, wrote throughout the book. I felt that it gave great insight into her thoughts and feelings. She didn't always agree with what her husband thought, but she supported him regardless and they were protected because of it. I didn't feel a particular closeness to the daughters Magda and Mara, partly because they were absent during part of the story, but I did like what was included about them. I think my favorite daughter was Kati. I don't like to include any kind of spoilers in my reviews, so I'll just say that her particular experiences were the most interesting to me. Miri, of course, was a great character as well, telling us of their struggles, fears, and successes. I was very touched by her reaction to the sacred prayer shawls being used as skirts by the local girls. I can only imagine how that must have felt for them. I felt that her emotions and reactions to what they lived through were poignant and insightful. I loved Nessya for taking the time to read her grandmother's memoirs and for growing closer to her through that experience.
"This book was originally written in Hebrew and I am so glad that it has been translated into English. The illustrations were a great addition and I loved the helpful pronunciation guide at the beginning.
"We've all heard the phrase that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. It is reading about and understanding times like those described in this book that will help us as a society to prevent such things from happening again. This book is geared toward middle grade and young adult readers, but I would recommend it for young and old alike."
GENA D, EDUCATOR 4 STARS: "Nessya discovers that her Grandmother is a holocaust survivor and she is determined to know the whole story. A remarkable tale follows that is all the more amazing because it's true.
"Stories of the courage and dignity shown by many people during the unspeakable horror of the holocaust never cease to amaze me. This is an incredible tale of one family's survival during one of the darkest times in human history."
KAITLYN H., REVIEWER 5 STARS:"What a beautiful and moving piece about a family residing in Hungary during The Holocaust. This work was originally written in Hebrew but I feel that it was translated rather well. There were the occasional Hungarian, German and Yiddish words sprinkled throughout, which I really enjoyed. The illustrations are simple but very beautiful and remind me of antique photographs.
"Although this book is marketed for young-adults, I feel that children as young as 11 could enjoy it and read on their own as the language wasn't too difficult nor were the topics very violent or gory. The author managed to convey this painful part of history in such a way that I not only teared up from the pain and sorrow of these events but also from the love that surrounded the entire Eneman family and their perseverance to survive.
Thank you NetGalley and MB Publishing, LLC. for giving me the opportunity to read such a moving story."
ACCOUNT D., REVIEWER 4/5 STARS: "I've read a lot of stories about World War Two and the Holocaust. It was a particular area of interest to me when I was doing history in school. This story was a haunting tale of one family's amazing survival through that dreadful time.
The Eneman family were Jews in Hungary when the Nazi regime came into power and their lives were turned upside down. Through reading her grandmother's memoir, Nessya discovers the horrific truth that her grandmother has kept hidden for so many years.
"I found this story to be utterly entrancing. After reading many accounts of survivors from the war, it still shocks me every time when you read about the brutality of the time, the anti-Semitic ways of the Germans and others... I still can't get my head around it.
"The Eneman's were an incredibly resourceful family and through the memoir, and some letters that were sent to family members, we, along with Nessya, discover the terrible ordeals that each member had to go through in order to survive.
"The illustrations are beautifully done. Really striking and capturing the moments described in the story.
"For anyone who has an interest in true accounts from the war time, an interest in the history from that particular period that isn't set in France, Germany, or the UK... I would definitely recommend this read."