Review by Sasha Lauren, author of The Paris Predicament
Eva, a Jewish girl in Germany in the 1930s, experienced what no child should: her life and family were torn apart by the Nazi's in those dark days proceeding World War II. In Circumference Of Silence, based on a true story of the author's mother, Jacquie Herz tells Eva's story through letters and journal entries left for Eva's daughter, Mali, upon her death.
Mali, who was separated from her mother as a child, is in her mother's apartment to wrap up loose ends. She longs to know who her mother really was and is surprised by secrets and the silence that surrounded them. Phone calls, falling rose pedals, a visit from her mother's neighbor in Manhattan and a special childhood companion, (one whose life Eva changed forever), provide pieces of the puzzle Mali attempts to snap into place to form the frame of a picture she yearns to see in full.
Jacquie’s writing is clear, honest, delicate and bold; the stories intertwine in a dance that inspired a robust remembrance of the past Eva lived, yet likewise is rooted in the present struggles of Mali as she mourns her mother and discovers parts of her after she is gone. The author has a gift with words that provide easy access into various environments, (war-torn Europe, London, and New York), and the emotions of the characters, flush with strengths, quirks, and intelligible imperfections. I thought of this story during the days in between my morning readings; it would not leave me.
Here is a bit of her marvelous storytelling -
"Steamy grey smoke rises into the darkness from the power plants across the East River. Speckles of reflected light jiggle in the rapidly moving currents of the water, as if a shaky hand points the light. No stars shine in the sky, but it doesn’t matter. The city needs no help, it sparkles all on its own. More sirens screech from somewhere out of sight. She watches a driver struggle with parallel parking up the street. A dog barks. A woman laughs. A baby cries. Brakes squeal as a car stops short for a red light. Drumbeat sounds boom from another, then fade as the light changes to green, and vanish as the car speeds off. Mali shivers and draws the blanket closer around her, burying her nose in its warmth. She doesn’t want to go back in, not just yet. She needs the cool night air and the space away from her mother’s haunting words to think.
But out of the darkness, another night in her own life begins to take shape in her mind."
Acquisition Reviewer for Black Rose Writing
"This author is either Jewish and lived this life or did excellent research on this topic. Her imagery and literary devices were brilliant. She draws you in immediately then unravels the story piece by piece keeping the reader engaged. It's a beautiful, touching book.”