Gertruda’s Oath

November 15, 2009

By Ram Oren
Reviewed by Meredith Friend
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars

“Now it’s my turn to watch over you,” young Michael Stolowitzky, aged beyond his years, vows to his adoptive mother, Gertruda Bablinska, the only family he has left.

It is a time of desolation, desperation, and death in Europe, 1939. It is the beginning of World War II; it is the time of the Holocaust. Michael, only three, is caught up in the middle of everything. He is a Jew living in Warsaw, Poland and he needs to get out.

As Michael grows, so does the war. The older Michael gets, the more he understands. He is in constant danger, always peering around every dark, murky corner. His maternal nanny has kept him alive for the time being, but only because she’s portraying him as her Catholic son. Lies and deception can only get them so far, and time is running out.

In this breathtaking story, we follow Michael and Gertruda’s life throughout the war. We rejoice with them and cry with them, we marvel at their many escapes, and hope they can keep eluding capture. Along the way, they receive help from various people, including the most intriguing character. But this war was a long one, and they’re going to need more than luck to keep them alive. Their story is one of loss and sadness, but also of hope and courage. I thought this was an amazing story that gave me a more realistic picture of the struggles, triumphs, and everyday life during World War II. It revealed the compassion and moral strength that somehow survived during a world full of hate and never-ending war.

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