DIARY FROM THE ASHES gives a specific human voice to a tragedy so large that it can be nearly incomprehensible. Rywka’s writing includes not only a record of her wartime experiences, but also her dreams, poems, variations of old folktales, pre-war memories, and fantasies of a post-war life as a writer, educator, and mother. By embracing Rywka’s voice and vivacity as a passionate and expressive teenager, DIARY FROM THE ASHES, offers audiences—especially youth audiences—a rare and creative new doorway into a discussion of history, genocide, youth, and survival.
Additionally, Rywka’s story raises theological questions, as the systematic murder of her community tests her faith in the very religion for which her people are being persecuted. With her body weakened by starvation and her spirit dimmed by the loss of loved ones, Rywka’s voice as a teenage writer remains passionate and intense, interrogating God as to when the war will finally end.
Unlike most every World War II saga, the story of Rywka’s diary is also unique in how it is fully populated from beginning to end by strong women and girls. These female subjects include: the doctor who finds the diary in the rubble, the granddaughter who inherits the diary and brings it to light, the researcher who won’t quit until she unearths every available fact, the Polish historian who discovers Rywka’s identity as she transcribes the diary, the three cousins who antagonize Rywka as they struggle to survive the war, the kid sister who Rywka is trying to protect, and of course, Rywka herself. Each of these female characters embodies an experience and voice that has been omitted from the historical record, but that must now be included.
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2017 Copyright Yoav Potash