This week's excerpt, in recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day, comes from Jerilynn Jones Henrikson's YA novel, A Time for Tears.World War II contains millions of stories, for it affected millions of lives. A Time for Tears examines three. André Jabot, a teenage French aristocrat, is enraged by the killing of his young brother as the Nazis blitz the nearby village of Soissons. He swears vengeance and finds his way to England to join De Gaulle and the Resistance. Daniel Hagelman, a young Jewish grocer from Kansas, cannot turn his back on the horror of Hitler’s Nazis and travels to England to volunteer in the Royal Air Force, leaving behind a wife and newborn baby girl. Fifteen-year-old Rachel Ropfogel’s parents, upper class Parisian Jews, see the oncoming disaster as France falls to the Nazis. They arrange sanctuary for their daughter in the remote village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon where she assumes a new identity, Simon Bouret, a twenty-year-old art teacher. Each of these characters become members of the French Resistance and find themselves pursued by the relentless SS officer, Fredrik Haught. Murder, torture, chaos, orphaned children, caged babies, starving captives: cyanide tablets become a reasonable alternative. In war, many die, some survive. War ends, but only if survivors remember and teach future generations what they have learned, only if they remember A Time for Tears.
Chapter 5: Awakenings
That afternoon, as Simone prepared to burn the British agent’s clothing, she noticed a small wallet in the breast pocket of his jacket. When she opened it, she discovered a worn photograph of a little girl about the same age as Marie. She wore a crisp summer dress. The photo caught her sitting quietly, looking away from the photographer into the distance. The similarity of the child to Marie was, in fact, remarkable. She seemed to radiate the same happy disposition. They could have been sisters. On the back of the photo was written in neat script, Maggie Daniella Hagelman, age 3 1/2 years, and taped there was a wispy curl of fine brown hair.
The Yank, as he became known to the household, was unconscious for three days. Doctor Mason came every day after his office hours, under the guise of buying bread for dinner in case anyone became suspicious. He found Simone to be a dependable nurse, following his instructions efficiently: wounds cleaned and dressed, IV saline and glucose drips administered twice daily, bedding and patient clean and tidy. As she tended him, she talked to him as if he were an old friend. “I found your photo of Maggie in your pocket. I hope you don’t mind that I went through your clothes before burning them. Your little girl is so precious. I have a daughter, too, born the same year. In fact, they look so alike, almost twin sisters. Her name is Marie, Marie and Maggie. I would hope someday they could meet and grow to be friends. It must be so painful to be gone from her to this war. I feel this pain of separation as well. When you wake up, we will have long talks about missing those we love.”
Later that morning as she was tucking in the bedcovers, she saw his left foot move a little. “Sir, Sir, can you hear me?” [...]
“Where am I?” he rasped. “Who are you? What has happened?”
“The doctor ordered this shot if you awakened. It is to control pain, but it will also help you rest. He says the next time you wake, you will be more alert, and the pain should lessen as you heal. I will answer all your questions tomorrow. And I will ask a few of my own.”