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Set in the immediate aftermath of World War II, this novel explores the feelings of a group of Jewish teenagers on their way to Israel – both their grief and their reawakening to life. Shatz, a middle-aged partisan, is to bring a group of young refugees to Israel. There is Minna, who evaded capture by living with a Polish farmer, and Yehuda, a camp survivor. Clara was sheltered by Catholic nuns, and joins Shatz though she is not even sure she is Jewish. Shatz leads the children to France to meet with Amnon, the kibbutznik who will teach them self-defence. Amnon is whole and healthy; the contrast between his and their shattered lives provokes great tension. Guilt is a refrain throughout the book: Amnon is overcome by a sense of having failed the Jews of Europe, and the children’s new sexual awareness makes them feel guilty about becoming adults. Shatz loves Clara, but she longs for Amnon. Minna is embittered at having been forced to share a bed with the Polish farmer.

The children’s ambivalence is portrayed realistically, and without sentimentality.

Title Guilty
Writer's Last Name Golan
Writer's First Name Shammai
Genre Children
Ages 14 up
Publisher (Hebrew) Massada
No. Pages 197pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Ashamim