After her father dies, 8-year old Dafna and her mother move to a kibbutz.
When they get to their new home, Dafna is deprived of her clothes, her toys and her mother, and is placed in the communal children’s house. All this is done with a swift efficiency that stuns her.
As her mother busies herself with communal activities, Dafna is left to the cruelty of a hard-as-nails housemother who incessantly picks on her. On free afternoons she trails through other children’s homes because her own mother is always busy.
The outbreak of war marks a turning-point in Dafna’s integration. Shivering nights spent in the air raid shelter lower the barriers between the children, and the outsider becomes an insider.
The Zarchi hallmarks are evident here: a flawless ear for dialogue and an acute understanding of a child’s world.
Illustrations: Danny Kerman