Review Blog

Nov 06 2019

The writing on the wall by Juliet Rieden

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Macmillan Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9781760559489. pbk., 308 pages.
A great book for secondary students to read to learn what it takes for a journalist and author to research and write a book about their family history, The Writing On the Wall is a moving memoir of family, tragedy, history and the Holocaust.
Juliet Rieden decides to find out more about her father, John Rieden. John always kept quiet about his background and past from his family. He passes away in 2006 and in his final moments he suddenly looks up and says 'The plane is in the hangar'.
Juliet decides to learn more about her father's side of the family and her quest begins.
After 18 months of research and travelling to Prague and England to she uncovers more about her father's past than she ever thought she would. She discovers that her father's real name was Hanus, and as a young boy his parents made one decision that managed to save the life of her father. As a young child he is sent to England to study. We hear about his ups and downs about being a young boy on his own and being concerned about his family.
We also read about the fate of John Reiden's parents, cousins, aunts and uncles as they face the Nazi regime. Juliet is also lead to Theresienstadlt and Auschwitz towards the end of her research. We hear the about the cruelty, courage and kindness they endure.
Juliet has included letters, magazine extracts, documentary notes, family trees, reports etc. in the book. Also included are photos of her family, letters and her visit to the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, where she finds her family name repeated many times.
I did enjoy learning about Juliet's family and past. It is also one part of our history that we should never forget and never want to witness again.
Maria Komninos

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