We’re in Marquez territory, both in terms of content and style. Ausubel writes of a small Jewish village, isolated from the world – not even the postman is allowed in – that seeks to remove itself the story that is World War II and the Holocaust. They decide, instead, to write their own story – to begin the world again. A stranger is found in the river and becomes their kind of guide. We learn about the people of this village – not always by name (which is mildly irritating at times), but by profession. They are what they do. And what they do does not seem remarkable, though it is. They bake, make jewelry, handle money, etc.. And they pray. God hovers over these people as He hovers over this story. Parents are asked to make decisions no parent should ever have to consider and their children, lest they be tempted to cast judgement, find themselves faced with equally difficult questions.
Ausubel’s prose is gorgeous and true. Her narrators, especially Lena, are stunning. There are passages that are so genuinely and quietly devastating that they demand to be re-read. This is the story that is, to use Ausubel’s own words, that comes “after the facts have melted away and what is left is the truth” (410).
A powerful first novel. A writer to watch.