I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In the Holocaust (Best Holocaust books review)
In a graphic present-tense narrative, this Holocaust memoir describes what happens to a Jewish girl who is 13 when the Nazis invade
in 1944. She tells of a year of roundups, transports, selections, camps, torture, forced labor, and shootings, then of liberation and the return of a few. For those who have read Leitner's stark The Big Lie (1992), this is a much more detailed account, with the same authority of a personal witness. Hungary
Horrifying as her experience is, she doesn't dwell on the atrocities. There is hope here. Unlike many adult survivor stories, this does not show the victims losing their humanity. The teenager and her mother help each other survive; they save each other from the gas chambers. Even in the slaughter of the cattle trucks strafed by machine-gun fire, "words of comfort emerge from every corner."
The occasional overwriting about "drowning in a morass of pain and helplessness" is unfortunate. The facts need no rhetoric. On every page they express her intimate experience. After the war, the teenager finds her brother, hears how her father died. She wonders whether she dare enjoy the luxury of being a girl, of "having hair."