The story of ninety-nine-year-old Stella Levi whose conversations with the writer Michael Frank over the course of six years bring to life the vibrant world of Jewish Rhodes, the deportation to Auschwitz that extinguished ninety percent of her community, and the resilience and wisdom of the woman who lived to tell the tale.
Never underestimate the power of friendship at any stage in life. That’s one of the lessons from Michael Frank’s beautiful portrait of the wise and charming nonagenarian, Stella Levi, one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors from the vanished Sephardic community of Juderia on the Greek island of Rhodes. In relaying her life story, Mr. Frank has pulled off something special: One Hundred Saturdays is a sobering yet heartening book about how friendship, remembrance, and being heard can help assuage profound dislocation and loss. It is also a reminder that the ability to listen thoughtfully is a rare and significant gift ... Complemented by Maira Kalman’s vibrant illustrations, One Hundred Saturdays re-creates the world of Stella’s youth in the tight-knit Juderia ... More than seven decades after liberation, Ms. Levi’s detailed recall is chilling ... Mr. Frank, a beautifully unobtrusive interlocutor, reminds us that 'memory is not history.' One Hundred Saturdays, however subjective, evokes a lost world that deserves not to be forgotten. It is a deeply affecting addition to the literature of the Holocaust.
Maira Kalman’s illustrations, heavily influenced by Matisse with their deceptive simplicity, rich colors and delicate textures, are perfect complements to Levi’s story, portraying vanished scenes from life on Rhodes before the Holocaust. Together with the text of Frank’s beautiful book, they create a sensitive portrait of an extraordinary woman. Fiercely independent, keenly intelligent and remorselessly honest, Levi refuses to be defined solely by the tragedy of her youth. Her life has been a constant evolution, and her final years are being lived with the same vitality as her earliest ones.
Over the course of six years, she and the author built an unlikely friendship as Stella shared her most beloved and horrific memories, from her idyllic childhood with her grandmothers to her adolescent friendships and adventures on the island to her most traumatic experiences of deportation and surviving the war...Accompanied by illustrations from Maira Kalman, Frank writes Stella’s harrowing journey with care, and the result is this beautifully crafted true story of friendship, love, survival, and redemption.