The Personal & the Historic Bring Generations Together

Anya’s Echoes takes us through two generations as it takes on both historic and very personal stories. The book has two plots, or a plot within a plot. On one level there is Lea, a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl with typical, healthy concerns: good grades, ice-skating, a clique of gossipy, boy-crazy friends, and a warm family that includes a pesky but adorable little sister. In this plot, Lea faces a crisis of conscience when the clique, led by spiteful Melissa, decides to shun one of their own, athletic and strongminded Lauren. Lea is fond of Lauren and knows Melissa is wrong, but her own social standing is precious to her, so she is torn between loyalty and popularity.

On another level, Anya’s Echoes is about Anya, Lea’s great-aunt, who is staying with the family for a while. Anya was a Polish-Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. She lost her parents and two of her siblings. She made it through the dangerous and horrifying times by posing as a non-Jewish Pole with false papers; but non-Jewish Poles did not have it easy either, and she barely escaped death. After the war she worked helping displaced persons before she rejoined her sister and moved on with her life. Now she is spending time with her late brother’s family, Lea’s family. She is a plucky woman who loves to cook, enjoys the company of young people—especially Lea, who at first resents her presence—and even has a courtship going with one of her brother’s old friends.

The two plotlines intersect when Lea discovers Anya is making a tape recording of her memories of the war years. Lea listens to this private document secretly until she is discovered, and Anya invites her to listen while she continues her story. This cements the bond between Lea and Anya and also gives Lea strength and insight, including the wise message that “sometimes, even nothing’s something.” She applies this bit of wisdom to her own crisis of conscience, knowing she must act to defend Lauren against Melissa’s cruelty, regardless of the cost. On the lighter side, Anya gives Lea tips on how to approach the boy whose locker is close to Lea’s.

Anya’s Echoes is a warm multi-generational story with much to say. It is also full of humor, good dialogue, funny characters, and a good heart.

Esty Schachter lives with her husband and two sons in Ithaca, New York, where she is a clinical social worker specializing in counseling deaf and hard of hearing children. Anya’s Echoes is dedicated to her aunt Rose, whose memories became Anya’s memories.

Anya's Echoes
Esty Schachter
ISBN 1-56474-427-2
96 pages, paperback, $10.00
Publication Date: February 2004

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