STARRED REVIEW
April 2018

Recovering from the unimaginable

By Vesper Stamper

If you think you’ve read everything there is to read about the Holocaust in young adult fiction, think again. True, Vesper Stamper’s debut novel, What the Night Sings, contains scenes that have come to be staples of the genre: a Nazi raid, an overcrowded train journey, prisoners starving in concentration camps. But Stamper frames these familiar motifs with a question not often addressed in Holocaust literature: What happens after liberation?

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If you think you’ve read everything there is to read about the Holocaust in young adult fiction, think again. True, Vesper Stamper’s debut novel, What the Night Sings, contains scenes that have come to be staples of the genre: a Nazi raid, an overcrowded train journey, prisoners starving in concentration camps. But Stamper frames these familiar motifs with a question not often addressed in Holocaust literature: What happens after liberation?

Gerta is a singer and a violist who has lost her family and her voice. Roza is relearning to play the piano with damaged hands. Lev finds solace in his prayers. Micah is scouring Europe for survivors who are willing to build a new life in British-occupied Palestine. As each character begins to heal in body, soul and spirit, they wrestle with difficult questions about their identities, their relationships and their futures. Suffused with detailed descriptions of Jewish life and customs, What the Night Sings is illustrated with Stamper’s sepia-tone drawings, and her background as an artist shines as she uses light, shadow and repetition to depict everything from meager food rations to a glorious wedding gown. Do not miss this stunning debut.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our Q&A with Vesper Stamper.

This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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What the Night Sings

What the Night Sings

By Vesper Stamper
Knopf
ISBN 9781524700386

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