An Epiphany In Lilacs is a young adult novel set in a DP camp outside Hamburg, Germany following the end of World War II. The author, Iris Dorbian, captures in this story a unique glimpse into the period after the Holocaust when survivors had to deal with their new realities for living, based on her father's personal experience.
After liberation in May 1945, Daniel, a 14-year-old Latvian Jew, is treated in a field hospital in the British zone of partitioned Germany. A survivor of various concentration camps, Daniel fights to recover from starvation and disease. Racked by nightmares, a nearly nightly occurrence, Daniel finds sleep almost impossible. Through his love of nature, and pre-war memories, Daniel struggles to find comfort. He forms an intriguing bond with an older German gentile, another survivor. Later on, as he joins a theater troupe, Daniel tries to move on with his life, yet still searching for the whereabouts of his mother and two sisters. Poised on the cusp of a new life, young Daniel makes his way to the country that will become his new home.
This was a lovely and inspiring read about survival after the war. This had a somber yet inspiring feel to it which I thought was quite the craft given the context of the book. I finished this read just a few days before #HolocustRememberanceDay. I don't recall ever learning about Displaced Person's Camps, so this book enlightened me on that facet. The fact that this is based on the author's personal accounts made this absolutely mesmerizing. I felt as though I went into a time machine and was transported back to this sad yet freeing time (sad because of what had happened during the war, yet freeing because the end of the war - no disrespect to the author, her father, or anyone else is intended). This was such a tragic and heartbreaking time in our history, so to be able to read a story like this was like none other. Iris really captures this time period quite well through her father. The connection Daniel finds with the older German (another survivor of the of the war) and his story about rebuilding his life in the country while searching for his family makes it impossible to put book down. I was honored to receive an ARC of this book and am so glad I read it.