It is 1942, and
8-year-old Robby Kastner is looking down at the street from a high window in
his home in Bratislava, Slovakia, which has been invaded by the German army.
All of a sudden, his slice of cake slips out of his hand and falls onto a Nazi
soldier’s helmet. The scary events that follow change the lives of Robby’s whole
family. First, he, his two siblings and their mother take refuge at his grandparents’
house. During the journey of survival that follows, he moves from town to town,
country to country and from one family to another. And in each of his hiding
places he has to get used to a different name, to learn new rules to save
himself, and to forget everything he knew before. His father stays behind in
Bratislava and works as a salesman in a store that until recently belonged to
their family. Then he is taken to an unknown place together with the rest of
the Jewish men, and all trace of him is lost. Robby is also separated from mother,
brother and sister when he is smuggled with a group of children from Budapest
to the Land of Israel. There, his uncle and aunt take him in and want to adopt
him, but he refuses, still hoping that his father will
come back, and he is sent to a boarding school. Later, his mother does turn up,
but when she marries another Holocaust survivor, their relationship sours, and
at age 14 Robby becomes virtually homeless. Must he forget his father in order
to survive, or Vera, the girl he met on his journey and liked so much?
Until Father Comes
Back is based on the true story of Judith Rotem’s partner, the author Moshe
Bar-Yuda and commemorates the generation of children who survived the
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE
This is a lovely and sad book … Rotem has sunk much spirit and compassion into the book, and these do not necessarily find expression in the great, engrossing tragedy, but rather in what are commonly called the “small moments” … The most evocative scene in the book is in the opening chapter … depicting the tragedy of son watching his father being humiliated … Until Father Comes Back provides an opportunity to visit long forgotten places, like those black and white postcards from somewhere that looks familiar but you can’t remember exactly where it is.
Matan Hermoni, Haaretz
A wonderful novel.
Nitza Ben-Dov, Makor Rishon
This is a dramatic and compelling story that is hard to
put down, well written, and one that gives a complex picture of life … The book
is suitable for reading in installments to a class, and I’m pretty sure the
students will want to look for it so they can see what happens next.
Naomi Ben-Gur, www.smkb.ac.il
A human tale, hard,
moving, painful. It is an interesting book, well written, and young people will
strongly connect with it.
Finkler, Arutz 7
This is a touching and painful coming
of age story that will sweep you away to other times and places.
Liri Goshen, Rosh1