Sunday, October 23, 2011
In 1989, Martin Lemelman videotaped his mother, Gusta, as she opened up about her childhood in1930s Poland and her eventual escape from Nazi persecution. Mendel’s Daughter 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.
This memoir is pretty haunting. This is another holocaust story, but in a different perspective. I was expecting concentration camps but was suprised to find a story about how a family survives in a different way until the war is over. This book has a comic book kind of layout that gives life to the story told by Lemelman in his mother's words. It can be a little difficult to read because he writes it just like she tells it, she often refers to her father as 'the father' and other such things, but once you are used to it, it becomes a great voice in the story. The pictures aren't gory, but artistically done. Often when people are drawn dead they are merely laying on the ground, but it's the absence of blood that was haunting for me. There is only one really questionable drawing and that is of a mother nursing a baby. There is a little language and talk about woman's monthlies (don't know if that bugs anyone), and of course referencing to wartime violence and Jewish persecution. It's quite the read, interesting as well as emotionally told. Often when something horrible was being told, a picture of the people involved would be shown, but their hands covered their faces, as if it was too hard to face. It was powerful.