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Mendel's Daughter: A Memoir
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Mendel's Daughter: A Memoir

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by Martin Lemelman, Gusta Lemelman
 

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In 1989 Martin Lemelman videotaped his mother, Gusta, as she opened up about her childhood in 1930s Poland and her eventual escape from Nazi persecution. Mendel's Daughter, now in paperback and selected as one of the best books of 2006 by the Austin Chronicle, is Lemelman's loving transcription of his mother's harrowing testimony, bringing her

Overview

In 1989 Martin Lemelman videotaped his mother, Gusta, as she opened up about her childhood in 1930s Poland and her eventual escape from Nazi persecution. Mendel's Daughter, now in paperback and selected as one of the best books of 2006 by the Austin Chronicle, is Lemelman's loving transcription of his mother's harrowing testimony, bringing her narrative to life with his own powerful black-and-white drawings, interspersed with reproductions of actual photographs, documents and other relics from that era. The result is a wholly original, authentic and moving account of hope and survival in a time of despair.

Gusta's story opens with a portrait of shtetl life, filled with homey images that evoke the richness of food and flowers, of family and friends and of Jewish tradition. Soon, however, Gusta's girlhood is cut short as her family experiences Hitler's rise, rumors of war, invasion, occupation, round-ups and pogroms, forcing Gusta into flight and hiding.

Mendel's Daughter is Martin Lemelman's solemn and stirring testament to his mother's bravery and a celebration of her perseverance. The devastatingly simple power of a mother's words and a son's illustrations combine to create a work that is both intensely personal and universally resonant. Mendel's Daughter combines an unforgettable true story with elegant, haunting illustrations to shed new light on one of history's darkest periods.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mendel's Daughter strides bravely...into Maus's footprints and, against all odds, succeeds. Lemelman's first [book] is a tender, faithful retelling of his mother's Holocaust story. The routine details of shtetl life, family politics, brief moments of kindness amid devastating hardship, move us beyond clichés, beyond Good and Evil, to convey a powerful, tragic, human history. Ultimately — miraculously — about hope, not horror."

UPstreet magazine (UK)

"On virtually every page, Lemelman skillfully juxtaposes haunting pencil drawings, family photos and handwritten text. His unique contribution to Holocaust literature will doubtless educe comparisons to Maus yet many may find Lemelman's more realist work more approachable, immediate and, ultimately, unforgettable."

Booklist

Publishers Weekly
In what is clearly a labor of love, artist Lemelman has created a "memoir" told in the voice of his mother, Gusta, a survivor of the Holocaust. With the characteristic phrasing of one who comes to English later in life, Gusta's is a gritty eyewitness report on the great upheaval of eastern Europe in the 1930s and '40s, based on Lemelman's recording of his mother in 1989; at the harshest moments, the reader can take a small bit of comfort that Gusta survived to live a long life in the U.S.A. Her tale begins with her childhood in the town of Germakivka, Poland (in the current-day Ukraine), and kicks into high gear when the Nazis bring war into her village, destroying an entire way of living. Her voice rolls on inexorably, a stark account of human weakness and fear, tragic missteps with fatal consequences, and unimaginable hardships as she survives for two years with two brothers in a hole in the ground. Lemelman's subdued art gives the story its heart; with a combination of charcoal drawings and photographs, he creates a sense both of an almost mythical time gone by and the very real lives that were snuffed out. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416552215
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
10/02/2007
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
866,877
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.60(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Mendel's Daughter strides bravely...into Maus's footprints and, against all odds, succeeds. Lemelman's first [book] is a tender, faithful retelling of his mother's Holocaust story. The routine details of shtetl life, family politics, brief moments of kindness amid devastating hardship, move us beyond clichés, beyond Good and Evil, to convey a powerful, tragic, human history. Ultimately — miraculously — about hope, not horror."

UPstreet magazine (UK)

"On virtually every page, Lemelman skillfully juxtaposes haunting pencil drawings, family photos and handwritten text. His unique contribution to Holocaust literature will doubtless educe comparisons to Maus yet many may find Lemelman's more realist work more approachable, immediate and, ultimately, unforgettable."

Booklist

Meet the Author

Martin Lemelman grew up in the back of a candy store in Brooklyn, New York, and is the child of Holocaust survivors. He has been a freelance illustrator since 1976. His client list includes Groliers, Children's Television Workshop, Scholastic, Parent's Magazine Press, Crayola and the Jewish Publication Society, among others. He has illustrated more than thirty children's books and his work has appeared in numerous magazines. Martin is a Professor in the Communication Design Department at Kutztown University. He lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with his wife. They are the parents of four wonderful sons.

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Mendel's Daughter 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great read. I picked it up, and couldn't put it down until I was finished. Beautiful illustrations highlight the unique story, which is told in the words of Lemelman's mother.