Every now and then, a book comes along that makes you jump with joy, and this is one of them! I started reading it, then I had to hunt through my 10 year old daughter’s room to find it as she kept taking it to read for herself!
“The Family with Two Doors” is a story about a Jewish family with nine children living in Poland in the 1920s. Their father is a Rabbi and the large family live in two houses joined together, hence the title.
The plot is centred around the preparations and celebration of an arranged marriage between Adina and Mordechai. Adina is only 15 years old, but this story is set in a different time and culture when arranged marriages between the young were acceptable. I appreciate the author, Anna Ciddor, didn’t force 21st Century thinking onto these details of the story. I always feel this makes the story and characters more convincing.
For a small space in time, you are transported into the Rabinovitches’ household which is full of busyness, laughter, fluster, sacrifice, joy and dancing. This family knows how to express joy and dance! They are also a Jewish family and along the way you gain an insight into the food and ceremonies of Jewish culture.
My favourite character is one of the young brothers – Yakov. He is mischievous and full of fun. I loved his escapes through the city and the small mishaps he causes.
This story is set before World War II. I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter and was totally engrossed in the story line, but an unspoken shadow hangs over the family. Anna Ciddor has told a true story about her family, relayed to her by her grandmother. The characters are very real and you are left wondering what will happen to them when they grow up. Poland was the most bombed country during the War and the Polish Jews were processed through concentration and death camps. There is a short explanation after the story which will answer these questions.
I found this book in a new releases list amongst hundreds of other books, but the story shines brightly between dark chapters in human history. It is a rare gem which I think every child should read and discover for themselves.
I recommend this title for 8-14 years old. The edition I read is softcover, 208 pages long.
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2016