Greenhorn - Anna Olswanger, Miriam Nerlove

Greenhorn is a book that will fool you by its slight appearance, but the weight of its story will astonish you. I read it again recently, because I heard that the author, Anna Olswanger, is putting together funding to make the film. I mentioned this book a while back when I wrote a review for Twerp, and I do feel they share some common themes. As you may know, I don’t like to summarize books, but I will make a teensy exception here. Plus, I am a fan of this author, and her work should be more widely read (check out Shlemiel Crooks if you need a lighter read.) Greenhorn is an unusual book because it relates the direct effects of the Holocaust on a group of boys in a Brooklyn yeshiva. In Greenhorn, the author has brought the war home, a war that to younger generations may seem distant and complicated. Instead, the bigger picture is distilled into fine detail. Daniel, newly uprooted and orphaned by the war, clings to a small box — a box whose contents have changed his life forever. Aaron, his new friend, understands Daniel’s need for privacy, while fighting his own curiosity about the contents of the box. Read  this book, and you will understand why a movie based on it is so important. The publisher has provided comprehensive classroom discussion guides, available at NewSouth Books. If you’d like to support the movie, check out The Greenhorn Film Project.  What I found most powerful about this book is that the two protagonists are based on real people, and there is a follow-up at the end that will certainly make you cry, if you haven’t already by then.