"Jacquie Herz has written a story of the Jewish diaspora following the Holocaust, tracing its echoes through four generations. The shadow of the six million falls over every page, but Herz concentrates on the dislocation and continuing damage done to those “lucky” enough to escape execution. In fact, in one sense Circumference of Silence is a mournful, extended meditation on the relative meaning of the word luck. But it is also the very human story of mothers and daughters, the longing of each for the other, and the strength of a bond that transcends borders, oceans, generations—that outlasts death itself. The book’s voice is haunting, its characters compelling, and the story it tells an artful mix of historical and familial suspense. It is that rarity, a book both readable and important."
-Jeffrey Skinner, Professor Emeritus, University of Louisville
American Academy of Arts & Letters Literature Award
“From the very first pages, it’s this novel’s remarkable gift to show history unfolding across generations, in a plot with roots in World War II Germany and a daughter still making sense of family stories. A riveting and wonderful book, memorable and vibrant.”
"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 -
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."
-Sasha Lauren, author of The Paris Predicament
"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.”
-Acquisition Reviewer for Black Rose Writing
"A very interesting perspective on how events can impact not only individuals directly, but also the generations that follow. Circumference of Silence was a very easy book to read. It was difficult to put down. The story fully immersed you into that moment. A story that I believe needs to be told. It’s a story that doesn’t dwell on the horrific events of the past, but rather helps the reader to better understand the human elements associated with those times. I recognize that there are more parallels between those times and these times than we would like to acknowledge. I consider stories such as these as ones to help bridge the gap of indifference and broaden our level of understanding. "
"Circumference of Silence was given to be by a friend, or I probably would never have read the book. However, reflecting on the time I spent with Jacquie Herz's writing I am very glad I was given the book. Circumference of Silence brought to mind that we can never really know what our parents have lived thru. The choices they made, the directions taken, the goals, achievements, failures, and successes that spanned their lives define their lifetime and their children just played a part. I found this book sad. The heartache carried by the main characters will bring tears to your eyes and yet the writing is so descriptive that you are right there as the scenes unfold. I will never look at a yellow rose again without remembering Circumference of Silence. I suggest a comfortable chair, soft music, a box of tissues and this book."
Nikki Rivas rated it *****
This book is amazing! The characters are so well written, and the details make the book hard to put down. The story moves back and forth between present day and the past, and beautifully captures the mother daughter relationship! I highly recommend this book!
Patti Liszkay rated it *****
Hold onto your heart.
Jacquie Herz’s splendidly-written historical drama “Circumference of Silence” tells the story of a Jewish family through four generations, beginning in 1930’s Berlin where they are victims of Nazi persecution on the eve of the Holocaust, to their escape and resettlement as refugees in London during World War II, to the chain of events that separates a grief-stricken mother from her young daughter and eventually reunites them in New York where life continues, as life does in defiance of the past, and is renewed in each new generation.
The story begins in the present in New York and is told in flashbacks of memory and through a memoir left behind by the mother after her death for the daughter, who learns from her mother’s writing the secrets that couldn’t be told as well as the words of longing and love that couldn’t be said in life.
“Circumference of Silence” is definitely a five-star ― and a five-Kleenex ―read.
Sara Lee rated it*****
I just have to say that once I picked up this novel, I couldn’t put it down. I especially resonated to Mali as a young child and how the forced departure of her mother tore them both apart. It was so beautifully written that I was moved to tears. Went into the shower and cried my eyes out! You know something is really good when it gets to you like that. I have had some similar childhood experiences to Mali so I’m sure that’s why it moved me so deeply. Reading this novel, I was reminded of the phrase “writing from the heart.” This author certainly wrote from her heart! ❤️ Congratulations on a beautiful work.
Kirsty Lock Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
OH MY GOSH – I have read a lot of holocaust literature but I was NOT prepared for this book.
The book centres on four generations of a Jewish family starting from present day New York and flashing back to Berlin in the 1930’s where the family are victims of the Nazi regime’s persecution on the night before the holocaust and follows to their escape and resettlement in London during the Second World War. But the heartache doesn’t stop there it then follows the separation of a mother from her young daughter before they are eventually reunited in New York where they stay and rebuild with each new generation.
This book shows how events that people go through impacts not only them but also the generations that come long after them and I was totally engrossed from the very first page and I could not put it down so read it quickly, mostly through tears. As with all books like this that focus on this horrifically dark period of history, it is a story that should always be told and definitely never forgotten, I liked that this book didn’t focus all of its attention on the atrocities that were carried out in the name of the Nazis but instead put the readers focus on the human elements that these atrocities caused. I think this is an important book, because although the majority of people are horrified by the acts that occurred during the holocaust, sadly enough lessons have not been learnt and it could happen again, thus this book can definitely help people to broaden their understanding on the long-term impacts something like this had.
Sydney Long Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
“This book is captivating as it explores the relationships between mothers and daughters and how time and history have an impact them both as a family and as individuals.
Shortly after her mother’s death, Mali begins to pack up her apartment. When she stumbles upon an envelope with her name on it, old memories start to flash before her eyes. As her mother shares memories of her childhood as a Jewish girl in WWII Berlin, Mali discovers how well she did and did not know her mother. The letters raise lots of questions for Mali and her own parenting. More than anything, these letters give her a better understanding of her mother, the horrors she experienced, the challenges she had to overcome and her own fears about motherhood.
This book grabs a hold of you instantly. It’s written with so much compassion that you can’t help but get sucked up into the memories and emotions. While I felt it ended rather abruptly, I still give it 5 stars. It’s a great weekend read that will tug at your heartstrings and make you want to go give your own mother a hug!
Thanks to NetGalley, Black Rose Writing and Jacquie Hertz for allowing me to read this lovely story ahead of its publication date! I hope my review helps folks looking for that good weekend read.”
Brenda C. Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
From the brilliant title to the poignant cover to the aching stories written inside, this beautiful multi-timeline book is gripping, moving, evocative and incredibly insightful. The author's writing is introspective, keen, bright and thoughtful. Simply said, this is an unputdownable book. Mali makes a discovery which changes her life and causes her to question everything, including her relationship with her fascinating and unconventional mother. But the discovery also leads her to answers which clarify lifelong haziness. Mali's mother's diary is an important account of the past, her past. The author injects real portions of history such as Kristallnacht and effects of war into the story. "How would I have turned out if there had been no Hitler?" I've wondered what the world would have been had there been no Hitler and no Holocaust. Yet the story is not overwhelmed by that side alone but to me is also a study in relationships and choices. Readers are taken through different perspectives which are flawlessly written in parts which make a seamless whole. Mali reflects and pieces her memories together and begins to understand the whys and whats as she learns about her background spanning the past few generations. I am usually not a literary fiction fan but this...this is incredible! Am I ever glad I read it. It would have been a shame to miss. Literary fiction, Women's Fiction, General Fiction and Historical Fiction fans alike ought to read this book. My sincere thank you to Black Rose Writing and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this crushing, lovely and wondrously-crafted book.