On Feb. 8, the Long Branch Book Club met to discuss Day After Night by Anita Diamant. This is the second book by Anita Diamant that the book club has read and discussed. The first was the Red Tent. The club members agreed that Ms. Diamant’s writing style in this second novel is just as beautiful as in the Red Tent, but on the subject matter of The Day After Night and the character development there was some disagreement.
Some felt that Day After Night, the story revolving around a group of female holocaust survivors interred in a British refugee camp in Palestine, was hard to read because of the subject matter. While others found strength in the women’s stories, the others struggled to not sink with the characters into fear and depression at the horrors of life. True, these readers agreed, that their reading experience was tainted by their personal life dramas. Still, all agreed that the story was worth reading even though others felt the characters in Day After Night weren’t as well realized as those in the Red Tent.
The story in Day after Night is “…based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for “illegal” immigrants run by the British military…” The prisoners, mostly Jews, held out hope for the establishment of Israel, which finally happened on May 14, 1948. This hope sustained many of the book’s characters and that, all agreed, was a good takeaway from the novel. These characters struggled on through added adversary after surviving supreme terror and mind-numbing horrors. They kept fighting to live, not just survive their predicament with the demons of those Nazi memories nipping at their sanity. The novel didn’t rub the reader’s nose in this message. It was beautifully orchestrated and despite some of the reader’s personal trails, they too appreciated this message: Never lose hope, because eventually life will improve for you or someone you love or, as it was so eloquently worded in the movie, Galaxy Quest “Never give up! Never Surrender!”