Review: The Vanishing

The Vanishing

by David Michael Slater

Library Tales Publishing, 2022

Category: Young Adult
Reviewer: Merle Eisman Carrus

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The story of the Golem goes back generations. The original Golem was created to help the Jewish people of Prague during a time of peril. Now author David Michael Slater uses a similar fantasy to make a very disturbing topic more palatable for the teen reader.

This is a story of the faith, strength, and fortitude of a young girl as she helps her friend survive the most horrific experience of his life. Sophie Siegel and her parents have been moving from town to town as the pogroms are getting more prevalent. The rules increase, restricting the lives of the Jewish people. Sophie doesn't want to wear a yellow star on her jacket or stop going to school. The day she is finally to be awarded for her studiousness and be named Top Student in her class, the Nazis come to school and send all the Jewish children home.

She and her friend Giddy next door spend their time together reading about the Golem, a mystical creature. When the Nazis bang on her apartment door, Sophie hides in the closet as her parents are killed in the living room. The horror of what she has witnessed changes her. When the closet door is opened by the Nazi soldier, she realizes he cannot see her. She has become invisible. She follows her friend through the rest of the war, first on a transport to the concentration camp and then to the forest. She spends the rest of the war, Golem-like, trying to save her friend and others' lives and get revenge against the Nazi who killed her parents.

She struggles with the decisions she makes along the way, sometimes helping someone, sometimes not being able to help. Sophie learns quickly that good deeds do not always bring the results you are hoping for, though a strong message in this book is that hope and integrity are the most important attributes of human behavior.

Slater does not whitewash the reality of the Holocaust. Despite the fantasy element, this book is written in a very realistic manner to explain of the horrors of the Holocaust for the Jewish people. The Vanishing is difficult book to read and is best for mature readers. There are disturbing scenes of the concentration camps that are very realistic. The book itself issues the "Warning: This book may not be appropriate for younger and highly sensitive readers." However, the well-written plot takes the reader on an emotional journey in an unusual and unique way. 

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Reviewer Merle Eisman Carrus resides in New Hampshire and writes book reviews for the NH Jewish Reporter newspaper. She is a graduate of Emerson College and received her Masters of Jewish Studies from Hebrew College. Merle is the National President of the Brandeis National Committee and co-chair of Women's League Reads. She leads books discussion groups and author interviews. She blogs her book reviews at