It always baffles me, this long established hatred to those who are Jewish. I don’t understand where it comes from or why why people of this faith seem to be persecuted through the ages.

In A Fist Around the Heart by Heather Chisvin ($19.95, Second Story Press), begins in Russia in the 1880s when Anna Grieve and her older sister Esther’s mother makes the decision to send her daughters with her wealthy employees to live in Winnipeg to avoid the violent persecution of Jewish people.

It’s a charmed life, or so it seems, but Anna, who the story mainly focuses on, rebels against it and the count and countess who took her away from her parents. She flees Winnipeg and moves to New York, where she becomes a women’s rights activist, which in itself is super interesting and brave, illegally selling contraceptives on the side. Esther, who you learn about in flashbacks and memories, begins to lose herself in mental illness. You learn more about both women, when Anna, who is torn between taking care of her sister and escaping her, receives a phone call about Esther’s death on a historic day during the Second World War. As Anna tries to figure out if Esther killed herself or was killed, we learn more about their lives.

The book was excellent, but so sad on so many levels. I realize this lack of telling the truth or not sharing information with children, was something that happened so often at that time in history, but so much grieve would have been spared, particularly for Anna, if the count and countess just told them everything right from the beginning. In their quest for protecting the children, they caused so much damage, which is awful because they truly seemed like great people who loved those girls like their own.

The book was a quick read and an interesting look at what life was like for women in North America during time period.


A copy of this book was provided by Second Story Press for an honest review. The opinions are my own.