Anya's War, a Shanghai Holocaust story

It’s a beautiful story, based in Shaghai about a young Jewish girl and her family as they hope to escape the Holocaust. It is the coming of age, the learning to find a voice and expression, to grow and accept responsibility to challenge the norms and push what is acceptable for a women in society. And it’s a different story then what one usually thinks of as a “Holocaust story.”
The book is Anya’s War (Feiwel & Friends: February 2011 release).
The setting: Shanghai; the year: 1937.
The story while simple is one that is extremely interesting and compelling.  Geared at middle-schoolers, the book allows children as young as nine and adults as old as 90 to read, understand and discuss.

Yan and Lily Abramovitch (ca 1934) The "real" Georgi and Anya (photo courtesy of Andrea Alban)

The story bridges a young girl’s desire to have fun with the very strict guidelines of Judaism and specifically the observances of Shabbat.
I talked with Andrea Alban, author of Anya’s War , about the story, and she said, “I chose an unusual time frame for the novel. The story is told over 25 hours: from dusk on Friday (the beginning of Shabbat) to the appearance of the third star in the sky on Saturday or Havdalah. The Jewish day of rest takes on a magical quality as time expands. I used this as the backdrop for the extraordinary adventure Anya navigates.”
The book is based on the true life story of survival of Alban’s fathers side of the family. While growing up, Alban says, “My father told me the stories along with his sister, my Aunt Lily (who “Anya” is based on). My Babushka (“grandmother”) spend 6 weeks with us every year and would tell me her stories as well which included life in Odessa (before her family fled to Shanghai).”
While talking with the author about what’s next, she told me that this is the first in a triology that will span 1937 to 1950, she hopes readers will “fall in love with Anya and her family will follow the characters through many more adventures, trials and challenges in Shanghai.”
I for one, will be one of those people, I can’t wait to read what happens next in the story. I do strongly recommend that if you share the book with your child, you also read it; it could be one of those moments of great discussion with a child.
Even better, we have an opportunity to meet Alban this Monday. I’m including all the information below about the event at the Sabes JCC (St Louis Park, MN). What better way to connect a child with a great story than by first meeting the author!

Andrea Alban, Author (photo credit: Lisa Bossi)

Andrea Alban’s Lecture, Book Signing and Reception for Debut Novel: Anya’s War, at the Sabes JCC.
Monday, March 7, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
Sabes Jewish Community Center
4330 Cedar Lake Road South
Minneapolis, MN 55416
This book is appropriate for middle school-aged children and up!
Tickets: (per family) $8 General; $5 JCC Premium/Community Members
Call 952.381.3423 or email [email protected]
Email/Web: [email protected] or [email protected] /

Disclosure of Material Connection, required by the FTC: TC Jewfolk received a complimentary review copy of this book.