What would you do if you were a Polish-Jewish 13-year old whose life was torn apart by the Nazis? What if you had to spend all of your teenage years in a Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland, or three notorious concentration camp?
Well, if you were Ruth Minsky Sender (known in this book as Riva Minska) you would survive and live to tell your story in the form of an autobiography. "The Cage" is a brilliant book. After beginning with a scene where a grown Riva is remebering her chilhood and talking with her daughter, we are catapulted into her happy world in Poland in 1939. But Riva, her mother, and her five siblings could never guess what their future would hold. Their good (Polish) friends become ardent Nazis, they are forced to wear the yellow star, and the family is doomed to live in the ghetto.
In the ghetto, there is cruel punishment, little fuel and food, and the constant threat of being deported to labor camps. And after her mother is deported, Riva (as the oldest) must keep her siblings together. The ghetto is horrific, but as the corageous family hopes for a saviour, they never guessed the horrors that awaited them at Auschwitz.
There is something about this book that makes the Holocaust unbearably real. Sender expertly shows how quickly and suddenly the Holocaust took place, and illustrates simply how friends turned on them. I nearly cried when I read about Riva and her brothers in the ghetto-their for each other, their constant hope, and their hardships seemed so read to me. The fragility of life was very apparent when Riva talks aobut the concentration camps, but even then, her mother's saying, "As long as there is life, there is hope" is remembered.
"The Cage" will make the horrors of the Holocaust known to you...but it will also inspire you with the story of a life lived courageously.