The Light of Days – by Judy Battalion – independent book review – Non-Fiction

Complete Title: The Light of Days Young Readers’ Edition: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos

By way of context, I begin by admitting that I am utterly fascinated by the Holocaust, always trying to read more in the ridiculous hope that I will one day understand how humans could do such things to fellow humans. So, I have read many, MANY books about World War II.

I actually requested this book by mistake, intending to read Judy Batalion’s adult version– but as it turned out, I’m glad I wound up with this more condensed version. I think 500+ (in the full version) pages of this story would have been TOO much for me. Although I firmly believe it’s extremely important to record and retell the stories of brave women (who have too often been left out of written histories), THE LIGHT OF DAYS is, not surprisingly, VERY painful to read. As I find many books about the Holocaust. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.

The women that fill these pages are largely teenagers and women in their 20s. Yet they are determined to do all they can during World War II to fight the Nazis, while saving themselves and other fellow Jews. Often, they have already lost all members of their families. So, for them, every Jewish life saved and ever Nazi killed represents a victory.

Those victories, however, do not diminish the day-to-day dangers and horrors each faces. Finding even rudimentary housing and subsistence food is a struggle. Continually hiding, they live with the constant fear of discovery. They make deep attachments to fellow resistance fighters, only to have friends disappear suddenly, never to be heard from again. When discovered, they are subjected to brutal torture. And at any moment, the can be shot or forced onto a train, headed to certain death in a Nazi concentration camp.

The drama surrounding these lives is relentless and not in a good way. Although it does propel you through the book. But, honestly, I was happy to reach the end. And I feel like young people reading this version would benefit with some supervision as they wrestle with one of the most inhumane chapters of human history.

Judy Batalion
Photo from author’s Website

So, why only three stars then? Because much of the writing seemed dry to me. And the stories of different women seemed a bit jumbled at times. Patched together, instead of woven. While the content is undoubtedly compelling, too often I felt like I was wading through a recitation of facts, much like reading a history textbook. (The key reason I usually prefer historical fiction.) I’ve read enough non-fiction to know how much a strong narrative style can add. And I found it missing in this book.

Yes, I recommend the book. Mostly for its importance. And I don’t pretend my review in ANY way applies to the longer/adult version of the book, since I have not read that one. But, I don’t plan to go on now and read the full version.

More about the author, Judy Battalion

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