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Old Brown Suitcase


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Gr 6-10‘Told in a first-person narrative, this novel is based on the personal recollections of a ``hidden child.'' The story begins in postwar Montreal, where the Lenski family has resettled after fleeing Poland in 1947. The author then uses flashbacks to re-create Warsaw before, during, and after World War II. As the Nazis advance and the horrors of the Holocaust move closer, the Lenskis become more and more desperate. In alternating chapters, Boraks-Nemetz traces their transition as they adapt to their new North American lifestyle. There, they are faced with a different set of problems: covert racism, language barriers, and differing values. The transition is especially difficult for Slava, the narrator, who is 14 when they arrive from Poland and has had no formal education. While the book is not weighted down with detail, there is enough information to portray the events that had such a profound impact on the Lenskis' lives. The characters are fully realized. Teachers may find this book useful in thematic studies of the Holocaust or European Jewish culture. The Old Brown Suitcase, while dealing with historical events, could also help focus a discussion about current wars and today's refugees.‘Lucinda Lockwood, Thomas Haney Secondary School, Maple Ridge, BC

.,."wonderful. Twice I was reduced to tears."

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