Far Above Rubies is a riveting book based on a true story-which in my opinion- are the most intriguing! Cynthia Polansky wrote this captivating story based on the aunt of her friend- who married a widower with six daughters. When her six step-daughters were all deported to Westerbork during the Nazi occupation in Holland, Sofie Rijnfield (AKA “Tante Soof”) bravely volunteered to go with them. Little did she know the danger that would encompass their journey, and where they would all be in the end.
The story carries us through their long journey and frightening experiences to the concentration camps. Sofie and her step-daughters were later transferred to Auschwitz. Learn of Sofie’s courage for her and her girls, and the incredible story that unfolds before her. This book and story, although it deals with extremely difficult times in the Nazi-era and the concentration camps, is very uplifting and is really a story about Sofie’s courage and perseverance. It is a beautiful piece of history that we should hold on to and be encouraged by.
This book is great for adults and mature students who want a personal experience of a Holocaust survivor. Although Sofie and her experiences are real, her legacy has been woven into a fantastic novel that I was quite enraptured by! What happens to Sofie, and her six step-daughters? Does she ever find her husband again?
I highly recommend the book “Far Above Rubies”. When I received it in the mail, I started to read the first chapter, and I literally could not put the book down until I had finished the story. My entire night revolved around Sofie, her family, and her insistence upon surviving. It was so captivating, and although the book and journeys moved through the concentration camps and the horrors that awaited the family, Sofie’s attitude was so encouraging and positive- it was absolutely amazing. This book is a piece of history that you don’t want to miss! The descriptions in this book are so vivid and well-worded. Cynthia does a fabulous job at building this story and the end of the story is full of surprises that I had not seen coming!
Q & A With the Author, Cynthia Polansky:
1. What made you want to write about this particular story?
I first heard the story of Tante Soof as a docent for the touring photographic exhibit, Anne Frank in the World. The tours of school groups I led culminated in a brief talk by a Holocaust survivor or second-generation survivor. Each time I heard docent Mieneke Gold tell the story of her Dutch aunt who voluntarily went to a concentration camp with her stepdaughters, I became more fascinated with it. I told Mieneke that she had to somehow preserve this story, but she laughed and said that no one wanted to read her family stories. “Very well,” I said, “then I’m going to do something about it.”
2. Was there a lot of research involved?
Yes, but not as much as you may think. As a Jew, the Holocaust was a natural part of my formal and informal religious education, so I already knew a good deal about it. I also incorporated real anecdotes I’d garnered over the years from various sources, such as the elderly security guard with whom I worked at Milwaukee’s International Airport, a Polish-Catholic man who spent five years in Auschwitz because of his father’s participation in the Resistance. I haven’t yet visited Auschwitz but I hope to someday.
3. How long did it take you to write “Far Above Rubies”?
4. What is your favorite subject(s)?
Foreign languages, English history (especially the British monarchy), and military history (I’m a Navy nut).
5. What do you hope that people learn about as they read “Far Above Rubies”?
That the human spirit is stronger than we can possibly imagine. That even as man’s inhumanity to man is apparently without limits, extraordinary kindnesses can and do take place.
6. Is there anything you would like to say to aspiring writers?
Probably the same things they’ve heard before: write from the heart; don’t give up; and allow yourself to develop into the kind of writer you are meant to be, which may be very different from the kind of writer you want to be.