Driven more by psychology than its plot...a chronology-jumping character study about the individual experience of a collective trauma ... This portrait ...is a thoughtful meditation on the human struggles that are not often considered in history books or political moments.
The novel shines in its last third ... This depth and intensity comes on suddenly, an earth-quaking shift from the steady removal of the preceding chapters ... Introspection pervades every page. The tone is alternately poignant and soporific—sometimes, even downright confusing ... The book ends in a crescendo, though, and there is poetry enough to propel audiences to the soul-stirring climax ... a powerful peek into the psychology of trauma and a great book club pick for those seeking a challenging, deep discussion.
What emerges, powerfully translated by Daniella Zamir, is a shattering portrayal of utter loneliness, guilt, and despair ... In addition to probing Elsa’s state of mind, Ben-Naftali also grounds her story in vivid descriptions of the reality of the train and the camp ... At just 138 pages, the novel is short. As long as the narrator is inventing the whole thing anyway, it would have been nice to imagine more details about how Elsa managed her first few years in Israel—for instance, whether it was hard for her to learn Hebrew, or whether she felt any regret when her brother Jan, her only surviving relative, moved far away to Australia ... Even unsolved mysteries can leave a lot of clues.