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Mendel's Daughter: A Memoir

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  165 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Sometimes your memories are not your own.Just as Art Spiegelman's "Maus" presented a dramatic new framework from which to view the Holocaust, "Mendel's Daughter" combines an unforgettable true story with elegant, haunting illustrations to shed new light on one of history's darkest periods. In 1989, Martin Lemelman videotaped his mother, Gusta, as she opened up about her ch ...more
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Free Press (first published September 14th 2006)
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Apr 09, 2014 Mariah rated it liked it
This book has me going back and forth on whether it was worth the read, or if it was just another Holocaust story. It is so very true that you can only read so many survivor stories before they all blend together in your mind. The story though is very unique compared to other stories I have read about the survivors because of how they managed to escape being placed in the camps by hiding in the woods. This one part in particular where they are describing how they hid really stood out to me, "We ...more
Desiree Brunelle
Oct 15, 2014 Desiree Brunelle rated it it was amazing
this memoir is no laughing matter, this book will bring you back to the times of war, to time of scared-em, fear, mass murders, and not knowing the future. this book is dedicated the family members who lives were taken during WW2. this book is a tail of a mother and her 7 children journey and survival of Hitler's rain. you will find that it starts out happy and makes you really understand and get a feel for what it is like in Poland so long ago, and then you get the fear and troubles Jews go thr ...more
Barbara McVeigh
Dec 10, 2011 Barbara McVeigh rated it it was amazing
Mendel’s Daughter: A Memoir is cinematic in its scope, visuals and voice. It is the story of ghosts who speak through dreams, and angles that intervene to save a life.

The author recreates in graphic novel form, an interview he had with his mother about her experiences during World War II. She was born in a Polish-Ukrainian Jewish shtetl and in the book she tells her son about their family’s history, its personage, and what happened to them when the Russians and Germans invaded. Mendel's Daughte
Robert Beveridge
Martin Lemelman, Mendel's Daughter (Free Press, 2006)

I'll admit right up front that my coolness towards this book stems from a misunderstanding on my part. I see a title like Mendel's Daughter and all sorts of implications about the father of genetics and selective breeding run through my head. The story, however, has nothing to do with the more famous Mendel I was thinking of, and my disappointment at that fact never went away as I was reading this.

Mendel's Daughter is an “as-told-to” graphic m
Gayle Francis Moffet
Oct 30, 2014 Gayle Francis Moffet rated it really liked it
A very interesting read from the perspective of a woman (Lemelman's mother) who survived the Holocaust in incredibly unusual circumstances. She, her brother, and two sisters hid away in the words for two years and just didn't come out until the war was over.

The whole story is told based off stories Lemelman's mother told him while he recorded her. He uses her exact word, and her slightly stilted English adds a layer of voice that does this work very well. Rather than step away and tell in his ow
Sarah Nell Lader
I went into this book cautiously, because as real and as horrible Holocaust-survival novels are, sometimes people who write them are not gifted authors.

This is not one of those books. Written from the perspective of his mother, Lemelman captures her voice unwaveringly and convincingly. There is never a moment where it sounds like an author pretending to be someone else - there is just Gusta Lemelman sharing her history.

I had to put this book down to cry several times. It hit home very hard beca
Apr 04, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it
Mendel's Daughter by Martin Lemelman is a memoir of his mother's experience of the Holocaust. It details her experiences with her distinctive voice and accent without being too overwhelming. The novel describes the experiences of Lemelman's mother without graphic detail that one may expect when picking up a book of this subject. I thought this book was fantastic and beautifully drawn. This was unlike a typical graphic novel because of the mixture of drawings and actual photographs within it. The ...more
Jul 01, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
This is actually a difficult book for me to review. I'm honestly not sure if I admire the broken English or am turned off by it. I think one of the values of this book is that it is written from the perspective of a survivor, and the raw retelling makes it seem even more authentic. But it was also challenging to get through at times, given the unconventional usage. The illustrations were meaningful, but I especially appreciated the photos and copies of the original documents. Some of the hand-dr ...more
Oct 09, 2007 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic_novels
This book is filled with pencil illustrations interspersed with real photographs of the author's family (his mother's immediate family) that died during the Holocaust. Before sharing Maus or after/while reading Lois Lowry's Number the Stars or Anne Frank's Diary, I would encourage teachers, parents, and librarians to share this graphic novel with their children and young adults. Natural, fragmented language/sentences as well as Yiddish words are used throughout the story, which makes this a tale ...more
Mar 14, 2015 Greg rated it it was amazing
This is a very special book. I read it one sitting, which is what happens when you have a Saturday night without kids! I went through a period of not wanting to read about the war or the Holocaust at all but more recently I've taken an interest in not the broad strokes of the events but the intricate stories of particular families. This one is quite compelling. The narration is of an older roman born in Poland in 1919 and reading her words I could hear my great grandmother's voice, telling her s ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Kricket rated it liked it
the story of martin lemelman's mother, gusta, who survived the holocaust by hiding in the woods of what is now ukraine. lemelman wrote the book using video footage of his mother talking about her past, which is touching if a bit short on details. the art style is not my favorite, but he did include photos which worked very well. unfortunately it's difficult not to compare this to the glory of "maus."
Nov 15, 2007 Mokamonkey rated it really liked it
A graphic novel version of the author's mother's experiences during the holocaust. The way the book started was a bit disconnected, but it turned out to be an excellent book. The photos really enhanced the story. I wanted to see the actual faces of the people these experiences happened to and kept flipping back, when I read more about a particular person. I found the depiction of the mother's accent a little hard to understand at places, but I got used to it eventually.
Aug 07, 2015 Terri rated it really liked it
Mendel's Daughter is a graphic transcription of the author/illustrator's mother's taped memories of her survival during the Holocaust. Described as a memoir, it's perhaps more accurate to say graphic biography. Regardless, the story is beautifully done and a family tribute. The last pictures showing individual portraits of some of the family members with their eyes shielded by their own hands is heart-wrenching.
Nov 02, 2011 Kristi-Anna rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-books-read
It was a good story, but it was not a style I enjoy reading. It was in line with a graphic novel, as there were lots of illustrations on every page, with text sprinkled in. Also, since the story was written as Mendel's daughter spoke to her son... it was sometimes hard to read with the ESL factor written right in, rather than some editing done to make the words and sentences flow. It is definitely a great story of tragedy and great triumph!
Oct 23, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
A touching graphic memoir told by the grandson of Gusta, a Polish Jew who survives the Holocaust by hiding in "graves" in the woods with her brothers after the rest of her family is killed. Black and white drawings capture the hopelessness and occasional reproductions of well known period photographs add to the grim reality of her story. The author created the story based on a video tape of his grandmother who talked about her experieences just before her death. A very good graphic book.
Ashly  Roman
This book is a true tribute to Holocaust survivors everywhere so that their story is never forgotten. Martin Lemelman gives a detailed and beutifully illustrated account of his family's history. If you loves Maus I & II as I did, you will love Mendel's Daughter.

The Reading Public Library in Reading PA will have Mr. Lemelman join us to remember those victims, January 28, 2012 for International Holocaust Rememberance Day. We can't wait!
Mar 31, 2012 Brian rated it liked it
This was a graphic novel so it took me a very short time to read. It is the story of the author's mother who grew up during the Holocaust. It is a very sad tale, but not the typical one and it talks about what happened to his mother's siblings and parents. The story is shocking, as most are about this time, and well told. I was a little confused by the broken English, but I guess that was used for authenticity.
Apr 04, 2012 Twan rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
Kinda feel bad about not liking this due to the personal nature of the book - the author's mother agreed to a video interview telling about her childhood in Poland and growing up as a Jew during WWII which he has recreated using sketches and written words.. As horrowing as the the subject matter, the artwork and pacing didnt resonate with me at all.
Feb 09, 2013 Ruth rated it really liked it
A graphic novel about a young girl who survives the Holocaust by hiding in this hole in the ground. So intense. Actually, it's a true story about the author's mom and her childhood, about her whole family and what happens to them, a lot of which is pretty tragic- he interviews her and writes the story in her voice.
Julie Suzanne
I loved how the artist wrote down the words his mother must have actually said in her recorded Holocaust survival narrative; her dialect was exactly like my Polish grandfather's and therefore she sounded like family and very real to me. What an experience reading this book; the illustrations enhanced the experience even more; I highly recommend this to anyone 13 to adult.
Jul 03, 2007 Beth rated it it was amazing
Graphic novel recounting the author's mother's survival during the holocaust - how she and her 2 brothers hid in an underground dwelling in the forest. Just fabulous artwork and story combined to tell a tale with warmth and humor next to all the horror and suffering. Bravo!
Feb 17, 2014 William rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
A story of Holocaust suffering and survival, told with unique pencil drawings, recreated from the voice of the author's grandmother. Booklist calls it "more realist...more approachable and...unforgettable" than Maus. I may not agree, but worthwhile nonetheless.
Jun 17, 2014 Angela rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Incomprehensible. I tried my best to get through it but it gave me a headache due to the broken English writing. I understand that this is her story, but it was unreadable for the most part. I wish it would have been transcribed in English, not broken English.
Dec 03, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing
This is another example of a really good graphic novel for adults. A son recalls his mother's stories about her life during World War 2.
Nov 26, 2010 Giana rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written and illustrated story that will resonate with you for a long time. I will make a point of reading everything he writes.
"It didn't matter if you are a rich or a poor Jew, a Rabbi or a thief. It is enough for you to be a Jew. You time is up." p.119
Ada  Library
A perspective of a Holocaust survivor, taken from a videoed testimony, transcribed and artistically rendered by the survivor's son. Another reminder of the horrors of WWII. Excellent.
Jun 01, 2014 Amanda rated it it was amazing
A perspective of a Holocaust survivor, taken from a videoed testimony, transcribed and artistically rendered by the survivor's son. Another reminder of the horrors of WWII. Excellent.
Aug 03, 2011 Peacegal rated it really liked it
This book is amazing. I felt as if the author's mother, a Holocaust survivor, was in the room speaking to me.
Zachary Harless
Zachary Harless rated it it was amazing
Jun 26, 2015
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