“No One Is Here Except All Of Us” by Ramona Ausubel
It is a magnificent read that nearly destroyed me.
This is the story of a village of Romanian Jews in 1939. The war rages outside reach of them, but when a strange woman washes up in the river with a terrible account of what happened to her family, the village decides to re-make their history: families are unwound, and history starts over. Our narrator in all this is a young girl named Lena, who is passed from her family to a childless couple in this reinvention of the world. Lena’s story is breath-taking, as she – an eleven-year old – is handed to a woman with mental issues who demands she regress to a baby and back to a woman of marrying age all in an incredibly short time. Once Lena is married with children of her own, the war finally hits their home and she must flee to save her family.
Lena as a mother is what got to me the deepest. As a new mother myself, her struggle to keep her children alive and safe felt like a nail in my heart. You do what you have to do in desperate times, and who’s to say what we’d all do in her place.
Ausubel writes gorgeously, and keeps her readers emotions in hand as the story progresses. In addition to Lena’s narrative, there are also the different stories of the rest of the residents of her village to be told, as well as the mysterious woman known only as The Stranger. Each of these stories is emotionally driven and riveting.
Ramona Ausubel is a masterful storyteller, and I literally could not put the book down. Books like this don’t come along every day, so get a copy of this one and read it immediately. It’s an amazing read, and one I’ll never forget.