Jump to Content

Aviya’s Summer

Winner of multiple international awards, Gila Almagor`s autobiographical novel is set in the 1950s. Ten-year-old Aviya is removed from the kindly children`s home where she lives and is reunited with her mother Henya, a Polish partisan who was caught and tortured by the Nazis. Henya has returned home after spending years in institutions. Although she is “well” now, her neighbors reject her and consider her crazy. Things go badly for Aviya as soon as she gets home. Her mother scrubs her head with kerosene and cuts off her hair; she begins the summer bald because of Henya`s horror of lice, another legacy from her past. Although she is shown little affection by her distracted mother and is ostracized by the town, Aviya is resourceful and imaginative, making much out of very little. She spins fantasies about her dead father, whom she knows only through the scraps of information she gets from Henya. She adores Maya, the beautiful young dancing teacher for whom her mother does laundry, and longs to be her friend. There are few moments of peace or harmony. Every promise of friendship, warmth and success is distorted and poisoned by her mother`s illness. Playing the piano ends in violence. Happiness ends in shame. Henya’s love brings no salvation.

“This is a book that leaves you speechless,” wrote Sueddeutsche Zeitung. There is pathos and humor in the narrative, but Aviya is a victim of the war, of what the Times Literary Supplement called, “the lasting and terrifying effect of Nazi persecution on Aviya`s mother.” Aviya’s Summer has been adapted into an award-winning one-woman play (performed by Gila Almagor), as well as a film.

Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish
Title Aviya’s Summer
Genre Children
Ages 10 up
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
No. Pages 92pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Ha-Kayitz Shel Aviya