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The Stars Will Guide You

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The Stars Will Guide You

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The Stars Will Guide You
A Novel
By Miriam Walfish
The Judaica Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60763-016-6

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - July 31, 2009

The Stars Will Guide You is a moving novel by Miriam Walfish, the author of Into the Fire, The Jewel and the Journey, and Penina's Plan. In this, her newest novel, Walfish has set her story in Italy, and focuses on the Jewish community of Rome during the dark days of World War II and the occupation of the city by the Germans.

The story follows the plight of Rica Levi (15) and her brother Lelio (8) who flee Rome for the relative safety of Nerola, a small village in the countryside. There, to ensure their safety, they are forced to live as Catholics. To their surprise, they eventually learn that they are only two of many Jewish children who have been granted sanctuary in the village. This gripping story takes the reader along on the children's unwanted and dangerous adventure, one that chronicles not only their war time experiences, but what happens to them after the war ended. In this case, Rica gathers together the surviving Jewish children in the village and sets out to help them find their parents. This is a search that will take them on a journey through Italy and to Feldafing, a displaced persons camp in Germany. Along the way they will be aided by members of the Jewish Brigade and a couple of American GIs.

From beginning to end, The Stars Will Guide You is a book that is unforgettable, and one that you will likely find yourself reading in one sitting. The story is infused with Yiddishkeit, and while many of the events surrounding the story are horrific, the overall tone of the book is uplifting. Technically, The Stars Will Guide You was written for a teenage audience. However the story will resonate with readers of all ages, and it is ideal for placement in both home and school libraries.

In addition to offering an unforgettable and moving story, this novel also serves to highlight the history of Italian Jews during the Holocaust. Walfish has also included a selection of Historical Notes on the subject that provide a brief overview of the history of the Jewish Community in Rome, as well as key events and places mentioned in the book. A glossary of Hebrew, Yiddish, and Italian terms used in the book, is also provided.

I highly recommend The Stars Will Guide You, not only to those looking for a memorable and uplifting book to read, but also to anyone with an interest in Italian Jewry or the heroic efforts put forth by countless Italian gentiles to save Italy's Jewish children during the Holocaust.

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