Escape in Time

Miri's riveting tale of her family's survival during World War II

Young Adult - General
176 Pages
Reviewed on 12/05/2014
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Author Biography

Ronit Lowenstein-Malz is the author of "Escape in Time." She was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, on May 3, 1960. After graduating from high school, she completed two years of National Service in the Israeli “Bnei Akiva” youth movement. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biblical and Talmudic studies in 1984 and a master’s degree in Biblical studies and sociology in 1998. Ms. Lowenstein-Malz worked as an educator and an administrator for over twenty years before turning to writing young adult fiction.

She is the author of ten books and is a recipient of the Yad Vashem prize for outstanding children’s Holocaust literature and the Israel Public Libraries Association award for outstanding children’s literature. "Escape in Time" is her second book.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Escape in Time: Miri's Riveting Tale of her Family's Survival During World War II is a young adult historical novel written by Ronit Lowenstein-Malz, translated by Leora Frankel and illustrated by Laurie McGaw.

Nessya is a young Israeli whose best friend, Rachel, has given her some unbelievable information: Nessya's grandmother, Miri Malz, has been invited to speak at their school's Holocaust Remembrance Day program. Nessya knew that Rachel's grandparents had been in the Holocaust, but she couldn't believe that her beautiful and successful grandmother was also there. Rachel suggests that they do a search in her grandmother's apartment to look for photos of her from when she was young. If there are no such photos, then, Rachel believes, it must be true: Miri Malz must be a survivor. After some unsuccessful investigating in Miri's apartment, Nessya finally asks her grandmother about the Holocaust. After staying confined to her apartment for two weeks to write down her memories, Miri begins her story about her childhood in Munkacs, Czechoslovakia (later, Hungary). Before she returns to her apartment, Miri gives Nessya the pile of her handwritten pages—her family’s survival story—and a packet of wartime letters. It's Nessya's bat mitzvah gift, and it's a story she will never forget.

Ronit Lowenstein-Malz's young adult historical fiction novel, Escape in Time, presents a unique and compelling insight into the lives of those Jews who survived the Holocaust, particularly those who lived in the small villages of Hungary and in Budapest. I found myself so deeply involved in Miri's story of her far-sighted father, Apu, and his brilliant strategies for keeping his family safe and alive. This story stirs such deep and mixed emotions; there's the triumph of this one resilient family, but also the pain of the loss of so many aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers, cousins and brothers. Escape in Time is a fictional account, written by the daughter of one of the narrators, Miri Malz; it is based upon actual memoirs of Miri's family members. Seventy years later, Apu's grandchildren and great-grandchildren live on and the world is a far better place for having them be a part of it. Escape in Time is a marvelous historical novel, and it is most highly recommended.

Brenda Casto

Escape In Time By Ronit Lowenstein-Malz is the story of the Eneman family whose sheer determination, along with plenty of luck, allowed them to survive the Holocaust. What makes this a heartrending story is the fact that it is based on an actual family that lived through this horrible time in history. An emotionally charged story that is often suspenseful, but also provides small bits of humor, makes for a story with real life characters that aren't easy to forget once you finish the final page.

Nessya finds it almost impossible to believe that her grandma Miri is a survivor of the Holocaust, but her best friend Rachel is certain that she is because she overheard a conversation where it was suggested that Miri be invited to speak at the Holocaust Remembrance Day program. Nessi wants to ask her mom because surely she knows the truth, but Rachel reminds her that many families don't like to talk about it. Instead she convinces Nessi that they need to investigate and solve the mystery on their own. When that plan fails, they ask Nessi's mother anyway and she suggests that they talk to Grandma Miri. What will Nessi learn when she talks to her grandmother?

Ronit Lowenstein-Malz's characters literally jump from the pages of Escape In Time. She not only captures the fear and uncertainty that they felt, but also the hope and love that knits this family together. I found myself mesmerized by the telling of this story, so rich in detail that I honestly felt I was witnessing history take place. While we feel the emotions of the characters that survived the ordeal of the Holocaust, we are also allowed to see how the information impacts Nessya as she reads her grandmother's story. Reading the "diary letters" added a unique element to the telling of the tale by providing snippets of the family's daily struggles, showing how fate intervened on more than one occasion to keep them safe. Ms. Malz does a wonderful job of balancing detail and age-appropriate information together to make for an easy to understand, yet informative story that will appeal to young and old alike.

Marnie Wilson

Escape in Time by Ronit Lowenstein-Malz is a historical novel based on actual events that happened to a Jewish family in the small country town of Munkacs, Czechoslovakia (later Hungary), and in the capital city of Budapest, Hungary, during World War II and the Holocaust. Unimaginable and horrifying events for the Eneman family began in earnest in the spring of 1944 in Munkacs, which up until that time was relatively untouched by the atrocities of the war being raged elsewhere in Europe. Very quickly the realities of Hitler’s Nazi regime began infiltrating the town, upending the world of its Jewish inhabitants. Forced to consider the options and likely outcomes, patriarch father Naftuli made dangerous, but thankfully, life-saving decisions. The youngest family member, daughter Miri, lived through the terrifying ordeal and later became grandmother Miri to 12-year-old Nessya. Escape in Time is told through the eyes of Naftuli’s great-granddaughter Nessya, and through the letters and memories of which grandmother Miri became steward, and preserved for her family’s descendants.

Escape in Time is a beautifully and intriguingly written re-telling of an awful period of time from a Hungarian Jewish family’s life that few of us can even begin to comprehend some 70 years later. Books like this that recount a time in human history so exceedingly reprehensible are important contributions to future generations to help ensure history does not repeat itself. I’m not sure we could ever hear enough stories about the Holocaust to truly imagine what life was like then. Escape in Time comes from an interesting vantage point, that of Hungarian Jews who managed to escape and hide, which I’ve never heard about before, thus making it a compelling read. Originally written in Hebrew for an Israeli audience, it has been translated into English very appropriately for a North American audience.

The illustrations by Laurie McGaw are breathtaking. Although I can’t claim to have read hundreds of young adult books, these are some of the most beautiful, captivating human depictions I’ve ever seen in any book. The medium chosen for the portraits is at once historical yet contemporary, a feat which cannot be easy to accomplish. The details the artist chose to include in each illustration are the perfect accompaniments to the major plot points. Each face depicted draws the reader in for contemplation. I found myself hanging back from moving on with the reading to ponder each and every illustration and all its finer points. This is rare for me and a real testament to the artist’s skill and absolute contribution to Escape in Time.

Escape in Time is categorized in the young adult genre, but I would suggest it is entirely appropriate and accessible for children as young as grades four to six. In the past six months I have read to my 11- and 13-year-old both The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place, and both children were able to understand and appreciate these books of greater length and more graphic details. Escape in Time is shorter than these two books, as well as devoid of grisly particulars of the Holocaust, and I believe it provides an important and gripping introduction to some of the realities of the Holocaust for younger children.