Wrath Becomes Her

Inkyard. Oct. 2023. 336p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781335458032.
Gr 9 Up–Vera is not a human being; she’s a “kishuf” golem, made immortal by the word “truth” inked on her forehead. Crafted by her creator Ezra from clay and pieces of his murdered daughter Chaya through an ancient, forbidden practice, she has one purpose—exact revenge on the Nazis who killed Chaya. This mission comes sooner than expected when Ezra disappears, and as Vera journeys closer to danger in search of him, she comes face-to-face with more of Chaya’s memories and humanity. The questions she begins to ask about who and what she really is intensify when she encounters Akiva, the boy Chaya loved, though surviving the Nazis long enough to find Ezra may be impossible, even for a golem. As with previous books, Polydoros has a knack for creating works that are both grounding and transportive, creating a sense of shared humanity across gender, culture, space, and time while transporting readers somewhere (and some-when) else entirely. Specifics of Jewish lore, coupled with the impeccably researched history, informs and educates even as readers are swept along by all of the righteous violence of Inglourious Basterds with the important and illuminating inclusion of the actual culture being erased. Philosophical questions of humanity, monstrousness, and what counts as either (or both); horrific violence both psychological and physical; layer upon layer of fury and vengeance—and yet, the sum of the parts is as hopeful as it is desolate, and as lovingly crafted as it is furious and brokenhearted.
VERDICT A gut-wrenching, eminently important Holocaust narrative that centers Jewish humanity, and a punch in the face to fascism.

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