Monday, March 9, 2015

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy

    Yet again, another work of literature centered around the Holocaust that I am in awe of.  When Dr. Jones informed us that it was about the life of a woman who lived in Rochester for a period of time, I knew that I had to read this book. Like many of you, I've read countless chapters in textbooks and have watched movies that focus on WWII/Holocaust. Considering this is something I've learned so much about in the classroom, it's hard for me to even imagine the fact that there are survivors living in my hometown. Speaking of Syvia, I was quite surprised to find out that she gives tours at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. I actually had the opportunity to visit the museum last year and wonder whether or not she was there at the time! As I was reading about the ways in which Syvia keeps her story alive, I immediately wanted to commend her; it takes a strong person to walk the halls of the Holocaust museum and speak to tourist in an effort to keep the memories alive. (I could not even make it through the entire door without breaking down and having to go outside).
     I really enjoyed this work of free verse poetry primarily due to the writers choice of telling it from Syvia's perspective. It made it that much easier to believe and relate to. As I was reading, I found myself imagining what life was like for Syvia and I could vividly picture the experiences she had in the ghetto and hiding in the cellar with the other children. I think having background knowledge on this particular subject matter made it that much easier to picture the events that took place.
     One seen that stood out to me was when Syvia and her father hid in the cemetery in an effort to hide from the Nazis. Although I knew that Syvia survived the ghetto, I could not help but be on the edge of my seating as I was reading this section. Would the Nazis spot them? Would her father be shot for defying the Nazis? These were some of the many questions that ran through my head at the time.  I honestly do that think I would have the courage to do what Syvia's father did; in make such a strong attempt to hide her from the Nazis. This is something that I have noticed throughout not only Yellow Star, but many works of literature centered on this topic; characters courage to go against the orders of Nazis. It is hard for me to even fathom having to deal with what the Jews did. Yet, I guess when you're in this situation, you will do anything to save your children and loved ones.
       Toward the very end of the novel, on page 219, something Jennifer Roy has caused by brain to spin over the past few days. As troops stormed in to save Syvia and the remaining Jews in the ghetto, her father stated that they only spotted them from their planes due to their yellow stars standing out from down below. It amazes me that the same thing which labeled them as inferior and less than man, saved their lives. This is probably one of the most powerful sections of the novel in my opinion. In a way, I can almost picture one of the Jews laughing at the Nazis and mocking their efforts to brand them with the yellow star; as in the end it helped them survive and avoid being bombed by Polish troops.

1 comment:

  1. Once again Keara, your insights are right on the mark. I actually was reading that section (on page 219) to my husband in the car this weekend as we were coming back from visiting family in Pittsburgh. We were both remarking on how horribly ironic it was that the same yellow star that basically sentences them to death, also saved them.

    I can also appreciate how overcome you were by the Holocaust museum. When I try to imagine myself in the shoes of Syvia and others like her, my stomach clenches so tight I want to double over. I just cannot find the words to express my respect for these survivors.