Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Waiting Room: Love Is More Ferocious Than Terror by Leah Kaminsky

The Waiting Room: Love is More Ferocious Than Terror. Leah Kaminsky. Harper Collins Publishers. November 2016. 320 pp.  ISBN#: 9780062490476.

Children of Holocaust survivors carry a heavy burden!  Dina is living in Haifa, Israel, with her husband.  She’s expecting a child but wonders how her looming fear regarding the warning of an expected terrorist attack by Palestinians will affect her child.  She’s originally from Australia but came to Israel when she visited and found that she felt at home in a way she never had before.  But time has passed and terrorism is a constant nemesis which allows no one to relax – ever!

Add to the mix that her dead mother visits Dina all the time, correcting her behavior, throwing out Jewish maxims, leaking her melancholy mood into the very fiber of Dina’s being.  At first Dina is silent, since she knows that her mother’s memories are never absent, a condition normal for survivors of those awful camps at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.  Dina’s father was silent but by the end of the novel he too will come to share his story.

The result?  Dina is constantly exhausted and not just from her pregnancy.  Her practice as a doctor is filled with severely and moderately sick people, hypochondriacs needing attention (more survivor guilt), and occasional outbursts of hatred toward Arabs, children, etc.  Dina’s focus lately is an overwhelming need to get away – anywhere, anytime, anyplace!  She and her husband are becoming more and more estranged every day and the only reason she doesn’t return to Australia is she doesn’t believe she can take her child away from its father.

Despite all the doom and gloom above, Dina’s got a feisty sense of humor which manifests in almost every situation she finds herself.  However, it usually never passes the thinking stage. The remainder of the story involves the individual stories of her parents, a secret about their family that Dina never imagined, and Dina’s reconciliation with the past and present.  It’s a long, dark, funny, and beautiful journey!

So many novels have been crafted about the Holocaust and its survivors, but Leah Kaminsky has created a unique story about growing from survival which hits the reader as endearingly realistic!  This is a fine, fine work of historical fiction that should be must reading not only for adults but also young adults and/or high school students. 

It is said that history is repeated if one does not learn from it – Leah Kaminsky has given us a character who travels a long journey toward ending a destructive cycle and reentering life.  L’Chaim!

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