Greenhorn is Anna Olswanger's new middle-grade novel.
In Greenhorn, a young Holocaust survivor arrives at a New York yeshiva in 1946 where he will study and live. His only possession is a small box that he never lets out of his sight. Daniel, the young survivor, rarely talks, but the narrator, a stutterer who bears the taunts of the other boys, comes to consider Daniel his friend.
The mystery of what's in the box propels this short work, but the real power of Greenhorn lies in the small human drama it describes. The stutterer and the boy whose family members died in a concentration camp are both ridiculed and excluded by the other kids. In the end, Aaron, the stutterer, finds his voice and a friend in Daniel, and their bond offers hope for a future, one in which Daniel is able to let go of his box.
On another level, Greenhorn is a book about language and its social role. The boys in the yeshiva speak the colorful language of Brooklyn youngsters of the mid-1940s—Yiddish-inflected and peppered with slang. Aaron struggles to speak; he stutters in expressing himself. Daniel, the newcomer to the group, does not speak. Language helps bridge their very different worlds and experiences.
Based on a true story, Greenhorn gives human dimension to the Holocaust. It underscores our flawed humanity and speaks to the healing value of friendship. Greenhorn is a provocative little book that middle schoolers and their families will want to ponder and discuss.
For more information, contact Anna Olswanger or NewSouth Books.