Title: A Promise Stitched In Time
Writer: Colleen Rowan Kosinski
Publishing House: Schiffer Publishing
Date of Publication: September 28th 2018
Rating: 5 stars
‘’It was a promise. Promises have to be kept.’’
What can one find in an antique shop…Objects graced with the beauty of a bygone era. Trinkets that once held sentimental value. Expensive creations of the past. However, once in a while, an object that seems neglected, worn, dull can hide so much more for the one person who will decide to become its new owner. This is what Maggie will discover in our story. A young girl, who wants to become an artist, seeks inspiration in an antique shop. A coat attracts her attention, worn and shaggy, dating back to the ‘40s. And then, the dreams and visions start. Maggie is haunted by the presence of two girls from a dark, nightmarish past and the living hell of Auschwitz. Aided by her friend, Taj, and Miss Gittel Berk, a strange, kind elderly lady, Maggie tries to find the answer to a mystery and discover her true self.
‘’A crow lands on top of the tombstone in front of me and caws, its screech loud and accusing. Its beady golden eyes stare at me threateningly. Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream, shrieks in my head, its swirling blacks and oranges tighten around my throat.’’
With references to Irish myths and with the use of the theme of reincarnation, Rosinski creates a haunting, almost claustrophobic setting for her story. And how could it have been otherwise when pain and loss form a dark tableau for young Maggie. There is a deep sadness in the family because of her father’s death and Maggie comes face-to-face with the darkest, most frightening moment in World History. The Holocaust, the period of unimaginable terror that reigned over the world. Her only escape is Art, her love and dedication to the ability to create something beautiful. Her ‘’weapon’’ is her determined, gentle and resilient nature that helps her stay firmly focused to what she believes in, closing her ears to people like her sister and her classmates, creatures of a fibble, superficial, empty society.
‘’I could have been a thousand different people: Muslim, Buddhist, African American, Chinese, who knows, but my soul was always my soul. And if it’s true for me, it could be true for everybody.’’
Loss, discrimination, isolation, racism, violence, death. All these words rarely leave our daily vocabulary, our daily news. Words that have branded mankind, leading to scars that are always present. Are these threats extinguished just because we’re not in a time of a World War? Far from it. The treatment Taj receives for not matching the teenagers’ definition of ‘’normal’’ is a ruthless witness. The disgusting notions of ‘’popular’’ and ‘’unpopular’’ children is a form of extreme racism from a very young age, a plague for every society. Thank God I grew up in an era and a country where such attitudes are still unheard of. There lies the only weakness of the story, in my opinion. The character of Patty was so irritating and stupid. She disgusted me and damaged the solemn tone of such a touching story. This was my only complaint in an otherwise excellent work by Colleen Rosinski.
Do we have to suspend disbelief to fully appreciate this novel? My answer is ‘’no.’’ Realism doesn’t mean anything at all. What we should care about is the message of the story, the belief that discrimination and racism lurk on our doorstep. No matter how many novels I read, no matter how many documentaries and films I watch, the abomination of the Holocaust still shakes me to the core. And this is understandable. We must never get used to the unthinkable horrors of the past because the human race has the inclination of repeating every fault in the future. Stories like this one should be read by our young learners because where else can we place our hopes for peace and equality?
‘’My Soul Is Always Free.’’
Many thanks to Schiffer Publishing and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.