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Review of TEENAGE WITNESS





Approaching 90 years old, Fanya Heller continues to share her personal account of surviving the Nazi Holocaust as a young Ukrainian girl which she began in her moving book, Love in a World of Sorrow: A Teenage Girl’s Holocaust Memoirs. Living in a small town which was already anti-Semitic, the family depended on Fanya to avoid the mass executions which followed the German occupation and subsequent pogroms. They were saved by a sympathetic Ukrainian policeman and housed secretly by a brave Christian family. Now a great-grandmother who emigrated to the U.S. 60 years ago, Fanya specializes in telling her story to small groups of students in inner-city high schools, many of whom can identify with her years of personal anguish. Narrated by actor Richard Gere, this touching program utilizes a rich blend of Fanya’s heartrending commentary, vintage film footage, family pictures, and expert commentary by Holocaust scholars. Particularly poignant is a reunion a few years ago in Israel with one of the daughters of the sheltering family. The program also highlights the profound effect of Fanya’s suffering on her entire family to this day as well as the central theme of the will to survive in the worst of circumstances. A very comprehensive classroom guide for the book is available online; however, the video can stand alone. A DVD chapter selection option is not available. Collections in need of a tender and emotive film about the Holocaust would do well to consider this production.

—Dwain Thomas, formerly Lake Park High School, Roselle, IL

School Library Journal, April 2011