Greater Than Angels by Carol Matas

greater-than-angelsI love the fast-paced adventurous writing of Carol Matas. This book is no disappointment, opening with a Jew hunt by Germans with dogs. It gave me shivers down my spine. How she rescues the two unfortunate girls is hilarious and gives the needed comic relief to a book with so much seriousness.

Anna Hirsch and her family have been deported by the Nazis to a refugee camp in the South of France. Deplorable living conditions make you sick at heart for the suffering inflicted on so many. When Anna and the other children at Gurs are given an opportunity to leave, they are taken to Chambon-sur-Lignon, a tiny village that dwarfs any giant in its capacity to love and shelter and stand up for the Jews. Matas confronts many of the puzzling questions that plague survivors who wonder why this could have happened. In one of the Torah classes set up in Gurs, Anna poses the question:

“Professor,” I asked, “do you think God watches over all of us, individually?”

“What do you think?” he asked, as usual, answering a question with another question.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “If he does, He isn’t doing a good job. Maybe you can only believe in Him if you believe He’s not really in charge. We are.”

An Orthodox girl got up and said, “Oh, He’s in charge all right! And this is a punishment for not keeping His laws. All Jews will be punished for those who strayed.”

That created an uproar.

“I don’t want anything to do with a God like that!” I declared.

“And do you really think you have a choice?” she demanded.

“God isn’t like a mean parent, punishing you whenever you do something wrong!” I exclaimed. “God has to be better than that! More than that!”

“I think,” Professor Malkovitch said, “that you are on your way to answering your own question, Miss Hirsch. If God is more, what is His role?”

A thought provoking book, that leads you to believe in angels- in human form. The many people who risked their lives to save others from the horrors of Nazi hatred are truly angels and maybe, you’ll even believe in miracles after reading this book!

This review is part of my efforts to honor April as National Holocaust month. Other reviews include: After the War by Carol Matas, Good Night, Maman by Norma Fox Mazer, and One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping. Previous related posts:  The Whirlwind by Carol Matas.

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