Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Night Journey

The Night Journey

Kathryn Lasky
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Penguin, 1981   ISBN: 0142403229

Rache doesn’t really like to spend time with Nana Sashie. The old woman is a bit strange, talking in Yiddish or even Russian sometimes; talking about things from long ago. Then one day Nana Sashie begins to talk about how the Russian soldiers came to the villages and killed the Jews and how the Jews had to run away. Rache can hardly believe her ears. Was it true that her very own Nana Sashie was almost been murdered and was forced to escape?

Over the next days and weeks, Rache spends many hours with her Nana Sashie, trying to find out the story of how Nana Sashie’s family was able to escape from the soldiers. She learns that Nana Sashie’s family took very little with them and that they dressed up in disguises so that they wouldn’t be recognized. Most incredible of all, Rache learns that the escape plan was Nana Sashie’s, that the old woman who almost never leaves her room was once a little girl who came up with a plan that saved the lives of her entire family.

Told in the voices of both the present and of the past, this remarkable story of how a child today learns about her family’s history, is powerful and moving. Nana Sashie’s understated account of what she experienced all those years ago during the time of the pogroms in Russia is fresh and alive, vivid with details about people and places that she saw. Based on her aunt’s own story, Kathryn Lasky has created a remarkable tribute to all those people who survived great hardship and who displayed enormous courage in a very dark time in human history.