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The Girl Who Counted Numbers by Roslyn Bernstein

“‘I’ve found the perfect solution,’ he said, reading the headline aloud: ‘How American Jews Claim Their Jewish Heritage in Israel.’ Beneath the headline, there was a photo of a group of young people standing in front of the SS Jerusalem II, a ship that sailed from New York to Haifa for the Zim Lines. ‘That could be you,’ he said, pointing to the picture. For the first time in a week, he was actually smiling. Her father had come up with a new plan, one that he approved of. ‘I’ll send you to Israel.’”

Susan Reich has spent her whole childhood in a small neighborhood near New York City, living comfortably with her father. At seventeen, she decides to turn away from the neatly plotted out life ahead of her and confronts her father about taking a gap year. The two are at odds until he proposes a way for them to both get what they want: Susan can postpone college so long as she spends her gap year abroad in Israel searching for her long-lost uncle.

The Girl Who Counted Numbers (Amsterdam Publishers, October 12th 2022, 978-9493276360) is the story of an independent, Jewish-American girl who leaves for Israel to solve a family mystery. The hunt for any evidence of her uncle takes her to unexpected places where she must confront parts of the past she never knew. With the infamous Adolf Eichmann trial happening in the backdrop of The Girl Who Counted Numbers, Susan begins unraveling these complex layers of history and is drawn into the tense political climate of a post-Holocaust Israel. As she gets more and more involved in the struggles of her Israeli and Jewish-Moroccan friends, she explores awakening emotions and discovers her own interest in truth, justice, and activism.

“All families must deal with the past in order to move forward, but for some families that is harder than for others. Roslyn Bernstein’s beautiful new novel chronicles one family’s difficult quest for peace. Moving, nuanced and inspiring, this gripping book rings achingly true.” —Gish Jen, Author, Thank You, Mr. Nixon

In 1961, author Roslyn Bernstein spent 7 months in Jerusalem. She was present during part of the Adolf Eichmann Trial—often cited as the event that sparked public awareness of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust— and listened to the stories of immigrants and survivors and daydreamed about their meanings. Her trip was a source of inspiration for The Girl Who Counted Numbers. Susan’s story, while fictional, is heavily influenced by real issues of politics, history, and identity that permeated Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust and even today. The Girl Who Counted Numbers is a nuanced, thrilling tale about discovering a past and confronting one’s identity.

The Girl Who Counted Numbers
By Rosyln Bernstein
Amsterdam Publishers
ISBN: 978-9493276369
Publication Date: October 12, 2022
Original Trade Paperback
Price: $19.95
Pages: 284