________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 13 . . . . February 27, 1998

cover The Garden.

Carol Matas.
Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1997.
102 pp., hardcover, $16.99.
ISBN 0-590-12381-5.

Subject Headings:
Israel-Arab War, 1948-1949-Juvenile fiction.
Holocaust survivors-Israel-Juvenile fiction.
Palestine-History-Partition, 1947-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 6 - 9 / Ages 11 - 14.
Review by Deborah Mervold.

**** /4


Before dawn we are all gathered in the dining hall, eight of us with one gun and ten bullets each. We have four grenades among all of us. Nate tells us that he has successfully scouted where the shooting was coming from, and he describes the four houses we are to attack and disarm.

He leads us through the compound, and up the wooded hill beyond Majed. Naturally we aren't going to just walk up the road. It's a bit of a rough climb, and we approach the village from the rear a little too close to sunup - we wanted to attack in complete darkness. We are split into groups, two to take each house. Fortunately the rain has stopped, so at least we don't have to contend with that as well.

I am paired with Karl, who I know must be very torn about this operation. He belongs to the far left group that doesn't believe in partition, but feels the Palestinian Arabs have as much right to be here as we do and that we should all work and live together. I wish I could be like that but I know that any ally of Hitler like the Mufti would never let that happen. He hates us Jews and he'll be sure to spread that hate as a way for him to get power - power over us and over his own people. Oh, I know him all too well. His friends in Germany killed eighty-eight members of my family.

The Garden continues the story of Ruth Mendenberg and her survival after spending her youth in a German concentration camp during World War II. In After the War, Ruth, as a leader of a group of refugee Jewish children, had journeyed to a kibbutz in Palestine, but there she has not found the peace and contentment she had expected for various groups were vying for power. The United Nations' vote to partition Palestine into two separate lands, one for Arabs and the other for Jews, was about to occur. No one knows what the vote's outcome will be nor what will happen should the vote be positive for partition. The Arabs are ready to fight to protect their land, and the Jews are also prepared to fight for the birth of a homeland. Britain's role in the struggle is portrayed as that of neither friend nor foe, but rather as a passive onlooker that does nothing to stop the escalating hostilities.

      On the kibbutz, Ruth finds peace in working in her garden, but her peace is short-lived because she must help the Haganah, the group that she has joined, to fight to maintain what they have. The Haganah believe that Arabs and Jews can live together in peace and are, therefore, only willing to take up arms in defensive causes. Ruth worries about her only living relative, her brother Simon, who is a member of the Irgun, a radical terrorist group, ready to destroy all enemies of the Jewish state. As Ruth's garden is crushed and destroyed, so is her spirit, and she worries that the greater Arab population can and will destroy the smaller number of Jews.

      The Garden, a story of struggle and survival, is also one of hope and love. Through the events of the novel, Ruth finds love with Zvi, another Haganah member who had been with her through her escape from Europe.

      Even though The Garden is a sequel, its contents can be understood without readers having previously encountered After the War for Matas provides sufficient antecedent information.

      A most worthy classroom and school and public library addition.

Highly recommended.

Deborah Mervold is a teacher-librarian in a grade 6-12 school and a Grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School in Saskatchewan.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364