The main characters are a mother and daughter.
Zuzana is a pork-eating, Christmas-celebrating Jew. She escapes from Communist Czechoslovakia to England at age nineteen, officially because of politics. In fact, she is seeking asylum from her mother Magda, a formidable and unbearable Holocaust survivor.
At age 12, Magda is told she can no longer attend school. Always the kid with her hand up first, and at the top of her class, this is devastating news. Like most self-absorbed teenagers, she’s aware that her father, a lawyer, can’t work anymore, that her mother’s diamond earrings are being offered as bribes, and that the Nazis have invaded her homeland. But she is unprepared in every possible way when her family is hauled off to a concentration camp. Separated from her father and brother, she is shielded from harm by her mother, even when her fiery temper gets the best of her and she tries to argue with an SS officer.
When the war is over, Magda finds out that her father and brother have been killed. Her determination is fierce. She finishes secondary school in a year, skipping 6 years, gets married and has a daughter, Zuzana. Magda is looking for a small version of herself and is continually frustrated that she has a child who is very different. Zuzana is equally frustrated that her mother wants her to be so many things that she is not. She is a constant disappointment to her mother, but Zuzana is disappointed, too. She escapes as soon as she can.
In England, Zuzana marries a second-generation Grenadian whose parents had come for a more prosperous life in the UK.
Zuzana’s mission is to not be like her mother. The tension between the two hasn’t eased even with an ocean between them. When her mother dies, Zuzana expects to be relieved. She is relieved, and that’s the problem. Her guilt is overwhelming. She suddenly feels the need to find out everything she can about her mother and her family. The survivors are all getting old and the clock is running out, but Zuzana is determined, and she uses the fiery spirit of her mother to find out exactly who this woman was. Zuzana’s son has a problem with identity. What is he? Czech? Jewish? British? White? Black? To help her son, Zuzana tries to find out about her husband’s part of the family, too. Learning about all those incredible stories, about people fighting with antisemitism, racism, political persecution, Zuzana gets to understand her mother better, and realises that she is like her mother, the woman she did everything to get away from. And maybe it’s not a bad thing.
My book is about emigration, racism, antisemitism, difficult relatives, but mainly just about people coping with the above.
I think my book would interest readers who care about living in a non-racist free society, readers for whom the NEVER AGAIN about Holocaust is not just an empty slogan.