In 1939, the families in a remote Jewish village in Romania feel the war close in on them. Their tribe has moved and escaped for thousands of years - across oceans, deserts, and mountains - but now, it seems, there is nowhere else to go. Danger is imminent in every direction, yet the territory of imagination and belief is limitless.
At the suggestion of an eleven-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger who has washed up on the riverbank, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: deny any relationship with the known and start over from scratch. Destiny is unwritten. Time and history are forgotten. Jobs, husbands, a child, are reassigned. And for years, there is boundless hope. But the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one, eventually overtaking it, and soon our narrator - the girl, grown into a young mother - must flee her village, move from one world to the next, to find her husband and save her children, and propel them toward a real and hopeful future.
A beguiling, imaginative, inspiring story about the bigness of being alive as an individual, as a member of a tribe, and as a participant in history, No One Is Here Except All Of Us explores how we use storytelling to survive and shape our own truths. It marks the arrival of a major new literary talent.
I am sitting with you on my lap, by the window. There are ice crystals on the glass. If I put my ear close enough I can almost hear them cracking and growing. It's not snowing now, but it has been all morning. Even though you have only been alive a few days, your story, our story, started a long time ago. Ours is a story I know, both the parts I saw with my eyes and the parts I did not. This kind of knowing comes from somewhere in my bones, somewhere in my heart. Someday, your children will ask what happened, and you will tell a new version, and this way, the story will keep living. The truth is in the telling.
It began in 1939, at the northern edge of Romania, on a small peninsula cupped by a muddy river. The days then were still and peaceful. Morning was for kneading bread, milking cows. We brought babies up to our lips. The baker had loaves in the oven in time for them to come out again when we were hungry for lunch. Children added, divided and multiplied numbers ...
What really makes this book a standout is Ausubel's writing. Honestly, I can't remember reading a more beautifully written book. The author's use of language is marvelously poetic and vivid; nearly every sentence paints a detailed picture. She relies heavily on metaphor throughout the novel, and while I often found her allusions unusual, they were also highly illustrative and apt.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1245 words).
In a thoughtful and personal interview, BookBrowse reviewer Kim Kovacs talks with Ramona Ausubel, debut author of No One is Here Except All of Us:
It seems like you hit a mental roadblock after researching your family history, mired in facts that wouldn't form into a novel. In an interview with Penguin you said that you "got closer to the truth once I put my notes away." Can you tell us more about that?
I had interviewed my grandmother, gathered photographs and letters and objects and spent time in the library doing research, but when I started to write, I felt completely stuck. I didn't have nearly enough information to write a real history, yet the information was enough to feel limiting. Finally, I realized that historians were ...
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