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Day After Night

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

From barbed wire to barbed wire: a painful, beautiful story of healing and forgiveness

Day after Night is the latest offering from acclaimed author Anita Diamant (The Red Tent). In this novel, Diamant transport the reader to Palestine, 1945. In the wake of Nazi Germany, the remaining Jews of Europe, recently liberated from the death camps, frail, hollow, ...
Day after Night is the latest offering from acclaimed author Anita Diamant (The Red Tent). In this novel, Diamant transport the reader to Palestine, 1945. In the wake of Nazi Germany, the remaining Jews of Europe, recently liberated from the death camps, frail, hollow, and raw, are now gathered in Displaced People's Camps (DP's) across Europe. Many young people stand at a cross roads. They've lost everything - parents, siblings, friends. They've seen and experienced every horror, and now they must decide what to do with their lives. Should they return to their homes and communities in Europe? Should they take inspiration from the Zionist camp songs of their younger days and immigrate to Palestine? Should they try to find relatives in America? And ultimately: can they even live in the world, after having been through the camps?

Diamant gives us a peak into the lives of five young women - teenage girls, really - each of whom ended up by a twist of fate in Palestine on the eve of Israel's statehood. "Welcome Home!" they are greeted by fellow survivors as they enter the barbed wired gate at Atlit - a prison compound on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, just south of Haifa.

Having arrived in Palestine as a result of different motivations - some Zionist, others desperate, and still others from a sense of having nothing left in Europe, the girls undertake the seemingly insurmountable task of healing. They find themselves alive and alone in a world turned completely upside-down. They've been surviving from day to day for years, and now must adjust once again to a "new normal." Their struggle with this is palpable.

A commonality they share is a great reluctance to remember - to remember the horrors they experienced in the camps. and even more poignant and more painful, to remember what life was like before the camps. Each girl has secrets that cannot be brought into the light of day. Each must battle her inner demons to find peace and self-forgiveness. Each girl finds her healing in different ways and at different times. And despite their tough outward appearances and actions, they support one another.

Within Atlit the detainees break themselves into communities, often by their origins (Romanians, Germans, Hungarians, Poles, etc.). They come together as communities to converse in their native tongues, to ask for information about their neighbors and friends, and pray in familiar tunes. In a particularly moving scene, the entire camp comes together to recite Kaddish at the end of Yom Kippur. So many souls over which to pray.

The number of young people in the camp makes sexual tension inevitable. These are young men and women in their late teens and early twenties. They flirt with each other. They tease one another. At one point a bus of Syrian Jews is brought into the camp (these young men had been captured by the British crossing the border into Palestine). They are muscle-bound, dark-skinned, black-haired men - very foreign and exotic-looking to the pale, thin European girls witnessing their arrival.

Day after Night "has it all" - a wonderful story-line based on some of the most important moments in Jewish and Israeli history; empathetic characters; sex; intrigue; a prison break and chase scene; and even an epilogue to answer the questions of "whatever happened to" so-and-so. It's a beautiful book, from cover-to-cover, full of weepy moments and opportunities to reflect on life and how we play the cards we're dealt.

posted by Amy_D_Z on December 14, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Enjoyable

I did enjoy this book as I have others by this author, but like others have said, the characters aren't really fleshed out and the reading is light yet emotional. The subject itself is very fascinating. I was sadly touched by the end, but I feel it lends credibility to ...
I did enjoy this book as I have others by this author, but like others have said, the characters aren't really fleshed out and the reading is light yet emotional. The subject itself is very fascinating. I was sadly touched by the end, but I feel it lends credibility to the story. I would mildly recommend this book.

posted by TayMac on December 6, 2012

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  • Posted December 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    From barbed wire to barbed wire: a painful, beautiful story of healing and forgiveness

    Day after Night is the latest offering from acclaimed author Anita Diamant (The Red Tent). In this novel, Diamant transport the reader to Palestine, 1945. In the wake of Nazi Germany, the remaining Jews of Europe, recently liberated from the death camps, frail, hollow, and raw, are now gathered in Displaced People's Camps (DP's) across Europe. Many young people stand at a cross roads. They've lost everything - parents, siblings, friends. They've seen and experienced every horror, and now they must decide what to do with their lives. Should they return to their homes and communities in Europe? Should they take inspiration from the Zionist camp songs of their younger days and immigrate to Palestine? Should they try to find relatives in America? And ultimately: can they even live in the world, after having been through the camps?

    Diamant gives us a peak into the lives of five young women - teenage girls, really - each of whom ended up by a twist of fate in Palestine on the eve of Israel's statehood. "Welcome Home!" they are greeted by fellow survivors as they enter the barbed wired gate at Atlit - a prison compound on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, just south of Haifa.

    Having arrived in Palestine as a result of different motivations - some Zionist, others desperate, and still others from a sense of having nothing left in Europe, the girls undertake the seemingly insurmountable task of healing. They find themselves alive and alone in a world turned completely upside-down. They've been surviving from day to day for years, and now must adjust once again to a "new normal." Their struggle with this is palpable.

    A commonality they share is a great reluctance to remember - to remember the horrors they experienced in the camps. and even more poignant and more painful, to remember what life was like before the camps. Each girl has secrets that cannot be brought into the light of day. Each must battle her inner demons to find peace and self-forgiveness. Each girl finds her healing in different ways and at different times. And despite their tough outward appearances and actions, they support one another.

    Within Atlit the detainees break themselves into communities, often by their origins (Romanians, Germans, Hungarians, Poles, etc.). They come together as communities to converse in their native tongues, to ask for information about their neighbors and friends, and pray in familiar tunes. In a particularly moving scene, the entire camp comes together to recite Kaddish at the end of Yom Kippur. So many souls over which to pray.

    The number of young people in the camp makes sexual tension inevitable. These are young men and women in their late teens and early twenties. They flirt with each other. They tease one another. At one point a bus of Syrian Jews is brought into the camp (these young men had been captured by the British crossing the border into Palestine). They are muscle-bound, dark-skinned, black-haired men - very foreign and exotic-looking to the pale, thin European girls witnessing their arrival.

    Day after Night "has it all" - a wonderful story-line based on some of the most important moments in Jewish and Israeli history; empathetic characters; sex; intrigue; a prison break and chase scene; and even an epilogue to answer the questions of "whatever happened to" so-and-so. It's a beautiful book, from cover-to-cover, full of weepy moments and opportunities to reflect on life and how we play the cards we're dealt.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Reminder

    This book humanizes the Holocaust, sometimes we tend to put everyone in one category. Each one of these women survived different situations in different ways. Also, when a war is over we tend to forget that the impact of that war will affect that entire generation for the rest of their lives and in turn the lives of those they care about. GREAT BOOK.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    One of the Best

    I never heard of this place and was really given a view of things in the beginnings of Israel that was educational, thrilling and hope inspiring. A must read for all those who love books about Israel and what inspires Americans, like me, to realize the need for Israeli endurance so it never happens again and I really don't think the British, ala this and Cyprus, were very good to the Jews and young people should be made to read this if they care anything about their heritage.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2014

    excellent story

    I am fascinated by WWII stories. Having been born after the war, it was surprising to me how we could have allowed the slaughter of so many Jews. And I had no idea that they continued to be interned after the war. This book seems to be a very personal account of the trials of the people. The characters were very well developed- you could FEEL what they were thinking and going through. I loved the entire story and cried while reading the last several pages. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

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    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2010

    I loved this book

    My father is a Holocaust survivor and all my life I heard the stories of he and his family's experiences. He came to America from the camps. Here is a story of going to Israel. I never knew undocumented Jews were interred in camps. I thought they were welcomed to Israel and quickly assimilated into the homeland. What an eye opener this was for me. The story had wonderful characters and was so well written. I will recommend this book to all of my friends and especially my daughters. Whether you're Jewish or not, you will love this book. The only disappointment for me was that it was a short book and I wanted it to last. I wanted to savor it but I couldn't put it down. That's the sign of a great book.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Beautiful tribute to post-Holocaust survival

    Yes, that was me sobbing on the train as I read this gem of a book. I loved the characters set in the post-WWII struggle to achieve the goal of a homeland for the ragged Jews after the war. Each story was told with accuracy and sensitivity, describing the mechanisms that each young woman used for surrvival. The friendship that arose, not just between them, but with others and the touching unexpected ending and follow-up to the tale, held me for hours after I read the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Day After Night by Anita Diamant - review

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ms. Diamant is a powerful writer, and is capable of bringing the past to life through her characterizations and her careful research. I also learned a lot through reading this book, about a period of history and a location that I knew little about. I did not want this book to end, and I crave a sequel to know more about what happened later in the lives of the young women after their breakout from Atlit. I found that many cliches about post WWII Jews were erased from this reading, such as they did not want to hear how "lucky" they were. I recommend this book to anyone want to learn more about what Jews did to eatablish thier country of Israel and how hard life was for them after the war ended. It was almost going from one type of captivity to another.

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