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Dobryd by Ann Charney


“Charney beautifully evokes her fear-filled young narrator’s gropings toward maturity and a sense of identity in this moving and memorable novel, first published in Canada in 1973. The book opens in 1945 as the nameless narrator, a five-year-old Polish-Jewish girl, emerges from the barn loft in which she has been hiding for three years with her mother, her aunt, a cousin and another family. As advancing Russian troops drive out the Germans, the family resettles in what is left of Dobryd, their devastated Polish village. Later, they move to Bylau, a German town under Russian rule, where they spend four years before traveling on to Warsaw; they finally emigrate to Montreal in 1950. Released from the cramped hideout where her family has been terrorized by an unscrupulous Polish peasant woman who brought them food in exchange for money and jewelry, the narrator insists she has enjoyed a ``happy childhood,‘’ yet she—as well as her indomitable, widowed mother—clearly has been traumatized by the ordeal. From her aunt, the girl learns of her Uncle Samuel, a prosperous landowner who was hanged with his wife by Germans, and of Maria, an American-born feminist who settled in Dobryd and died in Treblinka’s gas chambers, fighting the guards who dragged her naked to the showers.’’ Told in a matter-of-fact tone that makes it all the more heartrending, this marvelous story celebrates hope, courage and renewal.” – Publishers Weekly

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