Do I Have What It Takes to Face Persecution?

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to suffer persecution?

Yesterday, I heard a Christian talk show host field a question from his listening audience. The caller asked, “I’m afraid that if I ever had to suffer persecution like some Christians in other countries, I won’t be able to stand strong. That terrifies me! What if I fall apart? What if I can’t take it?”

You can read the rest of my article here at The Bottom Line …

An Exquisite Melding of History, Imagination and Insight

Life is never linear and subplots are rarely graphed at convenient intervals. Our companions do not play merely supporting roles. No, there are layers and varying degrees of angles in our timelines. Often our loved ones take on the starring role in our stories.

That might have been Morris Sullivan’s perspective. A Life Apart, the excellent new novel by L.Y. Marlow, begins as his story—a young soldier aboard the USS Oklahoma, safely nestled in Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, and ends in a tangle of characters and circumstances with no true north.

In 1941, Morris’s life was moderately complicated. His marriage to Agnes, his high school girlfriend, was insecure. Confused about his lagging love and devotion to her and their baby daughter, Emma, Morris was content to focus exclusively on his work. There he felt safe, affirmed and life was predictable.

Then, all hell broke lose on December 7, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. That event was the catalyst for change in Morris’s personal life too. It’s always the same with life-changing disasters. Nothing returns to “normal”.

In, A Life Apart, the reader empathizes with Morris as the rudder of his life is wrenched from his hands and course is set toward the unimaginable. Here enter the other characters who complicate, and in some ways consume the rest of Morris’s life.

Few authors can weave five strong personalities together so well that, by the end of the book, it’s difficult to decipher who was the central protagonist. Even fewer can harness those characters, explore, follow and endear them to the reader over the course of 45 years.
L.Y. Marlow has done just that and done it superbly.

Marlow leads the reader right past several foreseeable endings. Brazenly, she layers racial conflict upon infidelity, war upon self-sacrifice and redemption, cancer upon recovery, mental illness upon academic success, deception upon brutal honesty and finally, Marlow weaves an ending of peaceful conclusion, if not “happily ever after”. As I closed the book, I felt a gentle sigh of resignation and acceptance escape my lips.

I would read this book again 100 times over, and I’ve already book marked Marlow’s other works on my Kindle. If you like excellent writing, imaginative, historical fiction and prose that inspire and inform a life-well-lived, you must read A Life Apart.

Book Review, Bury the Hot

I hesitate to say myriad stories, because there could never be too many, or too similar accounts to remind our generations of the Holocaust and warn us, less history repeat itself. However, there are numerous books about it, some written by family members, some collected from the journals of children, some by the few survivors themselves.

I have devoured many of these books, held rapt by dauntless courage that seemed to sprout in once common hearts. Where once stood a child, a tradesman, a farmer, a businessman, suddenly emerged men and women refined by unimaginable pain and loss. Also, came men and women with the compassion and faith to go to great lengths to protect the innocent.

But Bury the Hot, by Deb Levy, tells a story of those same blood-drenched years in a different tone.

Levy grew up with Sal Wainberg’s children. Hardly anyone knew his story. Though he was proudly Jewish and obviously of the right generation, he had never revealed much, and most were reticent to ask. Then Levy, grown with children of her own, received an unexpected phone call.

“‘Hi Debbie?’ he said without introductions or formalities you’d expect from a lifetime friend who you haven’t spoken to in a lifetime. “Do you know my story?’”

Bury the Hot, was written as Levy sat at her desk for months, in hours’ long conversations with Sal and his wife, Sandy. Every few chapters, the saga pauses and Levy lets the reader listen to their real-time conversation. We hear her probe softly, ask some practical questions and some that are so personal, she is fearful to ask.

Sal was born, Szulim Wainberg in Zelechow, Poland. He was a mere four-years-old when German planes began bombing his home, disintegrating his life. His family evaded the Germans, hiding in lofts, basements, wheat and rye fields. Sal tells Levy he kept a mental tally of the miracles that kept his family just barely out of the jaws of certain death.

Now, he’s old, retired. His wife and children have lived and aged under the cloud of his secret past. But, how could a little boy assimilate the horror of seeing babies dashed against buildings, of digging his sister’s grave when he was only six, of living for months on end in a dank cellar without light, of feeling the hot, unjustified hatred of his own neighbors? How could he contain that and not be changed; and live a life just like everyone else?

That’s what makes this book unique. Through the interview process and passing back and forth between the decades, Levy shows how a man dealt with that past and carried it forward into a successful future. She unveils how thousands of Jews must have felt emerging from the Holocaust into a world that wanted to pretend as if everything is “normal”.

Bury the Hot, is an exceptional read, unparalleled in its approach to addressing the Holocaust. For anyone with an interest in history, for anyone with an interest in human nature and the aftermath of survival, this is an revelatory book.