The Book of Jonah

Klara With a K

by Sandy Berman

Overview: At the end of World War II, eighteen-year-old Klara Werner finds herself emancipated from the German concentration camp that has kept her prisoner for so long.

Traumatized by the abuse she has experienced, and seemingly abandoned by the American soldier who professed his love for her, she is unsure where to turn next-until she remembers her mother's final words: "Survive at all costs."

So Klara decides to reinvent herself, leaving her Jewish identity behind and marrying the US Army doctor who treated her. Together, they begin a new life in Atlanta, Georgia, where she can enjoy freedoms she has never had before. But in an era of Jim Crow rules and regulations eerily similar to the Nuremberg laws that victimized her family for so long, Klara begins to find she has more in common with her husband's Negro help than with his country club friends.

Burdened by the guilt of her carefully orchestrated charade, Klara seeks solace in becoming an outspoken advocate for the growing civil rights movement. But in the end only a face-to-face confrontation with a past she has fought so hard to forget will release her from the lies that bind her.

Gail Reid (12/20/14):While there are numerous books that fall into Holocaust literature, I like to look at what distinguishes each. In Klara With a K, Sandra Berman skillfully shows comparisons between the segregation of the Jews in the early days of Nazism before the camps and the segregation of African Americans in Atlanta during the sixties. As a Jewish woman who escaped from Germany by hiding her past, Klara can never reconcile the separate but equal mentality that prevailed. Her internal conflicts and external challenges make for an engrossing story with far reaching consequences.
Rating: ****

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