What if you and your tiny hidden village were about to be annihilated by a mighty enemy? What if there were no place to hide except in the world of imagination? Eleven-year-old Lena tells us how her Romanian family and neighbors, with the help of a stranger, took a do-over and started the world anew. Here they are on day one of their reinvented life, which has no war, no history, no traditions:
The sun broke through the clouds and rolled up over us like it knew the whole plan. Rain continued and an arc of color spread across our sky. We voted to keep living in the houses we had already built and to keep being married to the people we were married to. There were those who protested this, who proposed we gather in the square and pair off anew, tallest to shortest. There were those who thought it would be better to put the stupid with the smart to even things out and those who thought we should try to put the smart with the smart and hope for true genius.—No One Is Here Except All of Us, by Ramona Ausbel (Riverhead Books 2012; quote is from uncorrected proofs)
"But I love my wife," my father said.
"How do you know? Today is the first day—you have never seen her before today. What if you hate her by tonight?" the banker asked.
My father regarded my mother's mossy brown eyes. "I have a feeling," he said. "A very strong feeling." He winked. (p. 28)
- Setting: Romania, 1939 on the eve of World War II
- Characters: Lena and her family, a mysterious woman, the villagers
- Main themes: the power of imagination, story telling, Holocaust
- Other themes: love and hate, fear and hope, history and the future, reality and imagination
- Genres: historical fiction, coming-of-age, magical realism
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