On Friday, Dec. 28, at 5pm, I stepped into the AmoCafe in Mooresville to listen to Jack L. Grossman read from his book, Child of the Forest: Based on the Life Story of Charlene Perlmutter Schiff. A small group gathered for the reading, but Grossman insisted that the size of the crowd did not matter; it was the size of the story.
Grossman first met Schiff at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day 2006. He had gone with a group that included his youngest daughter, a busload of other 12-year-old children, and a few chaperones.
Schiff told the group about her experiences as a child during World War II in Poland. Schiff, who was called Musia (pronounced Moosha) by those who loved her, lived with her family in Horochów, Poland, when the Nazis came and put the entire Jewish population, 5,000 people, in a ghetto. She escaped with her mother by hiding in a turbulent river while the Nazis killed everyone remaining in the ghetto.
“Imagine going into the water with your mother, waiting overnight, trying to stay awake, finally falling asleep leaning on the bulrushes, and waking up alone. You are 12 years old. What do you do?”—Jack L. Grossman
The book details Schiff’s struggles from that point on. Only two people survived the Horochów ghetto.
“Why did I live? So many people died.”—Charlene Perlmutter Schiff
When Schiff asked that question, Grossman always replied, “So we can tell your story to the world.” He made a promise to her to do it and he has kept that promise. It took 12 years to produce the book with the aid of James Buchanan’s expertise. This truly incredible story was so well written that I couldn’t put the book down. I felt like I was living the story through Musia’s eyes—I read until midnight and then finished the book the next morning.
Grossman’s next reading is in Davidson at Main Street Books on Saturday, January 19, 10:30am-12pm. I highly recommend you go. The reading is good, and the book is even better.
The book is available on Amazon.com and locally at Cheers to Ewe in Huntersville, Main St Books in Davidson, AmoCafe in Mooresville, and Ahlara Spa in Mooresville. And a movie is in the works. To be notified of its release, sign up for the newsletter at Jack Grossman’s website.