An Epiphany In Lilacs is a novel set in a DP camp outside Hamburg, Germany following the end of World War II. The author, Iris Dorbian, captures in this story a unique glimpse into the period after the Holocaust when survivors had to deal with their new realities for living, based on her father's personal experience. After liberation in May 1945, Daniel, a 14-year-old Latvian Jew, is treated in a field hospital in the British zone of partitioned Germany. A survivor of various concentration camps, Daniel fights to recover from starvation and disease. Racked by nightmares, a nearly nightly occurrence, Daniel finds sleep almost impossible. Through his love of nature, and pre-war memories, Daniel struggles to find comfort. He forms an intriguing bond with an older German gentile, another survivor. Later on, as he joins a theater troupe, Daniel tries to move on with his life, yet still searching for the whereabouts of his mother and two sisters. Poised on the cusp of a new life, young Daniel makes his way to the country that will become his new home.
AND THE REVIEWS ARE IN!
"An Epiphany in Lilacs: In the Aftermath of the Camps by Iris Dorbian is a moving book, set within the years following World War II. It is 1945 when Daniel, a Latvian Jew, finally tastes freedom after his horrible experience of the Holocaust. Daniel is still haunted by memories of the concentration camp. This novel explores insomnia and the relentless disquietude that settles on the mind of this young boy as he struggles to come to terms with his new reality, developing new connections, and trying new things. All along, he still doesn’t know where his parents are. Will he be able to locate them?
"Rich with powerful and piercing historical references, An Epiphany in Lilacs: In the Aftermath of the Camps by Iris Dorbian captures the reality of Jews who survived the Holocaust, the inner scars and the struggles with uncertainty, incessant nightmares, and fitting into the day-to-day lifestyle of ordinary people. It is a heart-wrenching story, told in excellent prose and in the author’s unique style. I have been a huge fan of Holocaust literature, starting with Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, and have always felt appalled by man’s cruelty to fellow man. In this new book, the author explores the terrible effects of a fragment of history on the life of a little boy. This is a story to read and share, a powerful story about freedom and the perils of war. Well-crafted with compelling characters and interesting themes."---Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
"The setting takes place outside of Hamburg, Germany, after World War II. Fourteen-year-old Daniel has barely survived various concentration camps and he's in a field hospital still struggling to survive and recover. How can a young adult on the cusp of death recover from devastating physical and psychological wounds?
"More so than most accounts of post-World War II, An Epiphany in Lilacs offers a powerful survey of post-traumatic stress syndrome and the lengthy and challenging process of healing from wartime atrocities, as seen from a young man who is on the brink of adulthood; yet still a child in many ways.
"The choices he makes at this point are poignant and reflective of the experiences of Displaced People ('DPs') who occupied these camps and found their lives and world in shambles, with no clear path to reconstruction in the face of chaos and confusion.
"While all these sound like adult themes, the special pleasure of An Epiphany in Lilacs is Iris Dorbian's ability to reflect the perspective of a juvenile as he struggles to gain a new lease on life with revised perspectives and fresh goals. That the story line carefully refutes popular myths (such as those that most Germans were Nazis) only enhances its lessons and stories of courage, diversity, and how one not only survives but grows from world-changing devastation.
"As the story adds characters and focuses on their different approaches to healing ("Just as Daniel needed to talk about the past to help him move on, Silka preferred to think about today and the future. That was how he chose to heal and from one survivor to another, there was nothing wrong about that."), young adults receive important lessons that personalize the World War II experience on all sides in the aftermath of war.
"As Daniel confronts how his experiences have conflicted with his values and changed his approaches to life ("It made sense given their history that stemmed from way back before the war. And yet, underneath his immature bravado and petulance, Daniel was an insecure and scared kid. If his mother were here, she would no doubt take him to task for being so uncouth and uncivil toward Wolfson."), he tackles the foundations of his heritage, his missing family, and his belief systems, bringing young readers along for a thought-provoking survey that will raise many questions suitable for classroom discussion.
"An Epiphany in Lilacs is not only a tribute to the DPs who physically survived the war and were challenged to mentally recover and take a new road in life; but is a powerful survey of the roots and concepts of Zionism and the long path one teen takes to rediscover meaning in his world.
"It's highly recommended as not only an intrinsic addition to any teen reading The Diary of Anne Frank and similar nonfiction stories, but for classrooms looking for discussion materials specific to the experiences of Displaced Persons in the aftermath of the war."---D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
"Daniel is a survivor of the death camps. A young boy only 14 years old, he is tortured by the experiences he lived through. He is slowly recovering physically and mentally from the hellish existence, with no knowledge of if his family has lived or died, he has a few friends he was with in the camps and some from the hospital. Yet, he still is very alone. Nearly dead when he was liberated, the young man recovers slowly and his memories tell the tale of life as a Jew during the Holocaust.
"This is a beautiful, powerful story. As a Jew, I have read many stories of life during the Holocaust, both fiction and non fiction. I very much appreciated the way this story was written. The author captured the beauty and pain in the life of this young survivor. With a respectful grace and a loving pen, the world depicted in this story brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. Daniel is an incredible character, surrounded by incredible characters. The world in this book is vivid and real. From the horrors of the death march to the beauty of the flowers in the garden, I was captured completely. Knowing this story was based on the life of the authors father may have added to the feelings the story evoked, yet the capable writing style and clarity made the story real to me.
"I highly recommend this story and will look for further works by this talented author. I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 5 out of 5 stars." -- Deep in the Crease Blog
"This was a lovely and inspiring read about survival after the war. This had a somber yet inspiring feel to it which I thought was quite the craft given the context of the book. I finished this read just a few days before #HolocaustRemembranceDay. I don't recall ever learning about Displaced Person's Camps, so this book enlightened me on that facet. The fact that this is based on the author's personal accounts made this absolutely mesmerizing. I felt as though I went into a time machine and was transported back to this sad yet freeing time (sad because of what had happened during the war, yet freeing because the end of the war - no disrespect to the author, her father, or anyone else is intended). This was such a tragic and heartbreaking time in our history, so to be able to read a story like this was like none other. Iris really captures this time period quite well through her father. The connection Daniel finds with the older German (another survivor of the war) and his story about rebuilding his life in the country while searching for his family makes it impossible to put book down." ---- Rainy Day Reviews/Bookjunkie Mom Blog
"This was an amazing read and I easily gave it a five-star rating."----4 Luv of Sanity Blog
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