This post contains affiliate links. I was scrolling through Audible’s free audiobook selections when I stumbled upon Hiding in the Spotlight by Greg Dawson. I was intrigued and began listening to it while walking on the treadmill. What a fascinating story!
About Hiding in the Spotlight by Greg Dawson
Dawson is the child of Zhanna, a Jewish woman who was born in Ukraine and was soon swept up in World War II. However, Dawson didn’t know anything about this part of his mother’s history until she was in her 70s and finally started talking about her past.
Zhanna was a gifted child who was bored in school and preferred to roam the city streets. Her father convinces a neighbor to teach his daughter piano, and by age 6, she’s given her first concert. Zhanna is given a scholarship to a prestigious music school as the thrum of the Nazi war machine begins.
When she is only 13, the Nazis take Zhanna, her younger sister Frina, her parents, and her grandparents. As they are marching toward their death, her father makes the agonizing decision to bribe a guard so that one of his daughters, Zhanna, the street-smart girl, can escape from the line. Her father’s final words to Zhanna are, “I don’t care what you do, but just LIVE.”
Zhanna does just that in a story that is almost too unbelievable to be true.
My Thoughts on the Book
I loved this story! I listened to the book on audio, and the narrator’s voice was exactly how I imagined the elderly Zhanna speaking as she tells her story.
That Greg Dawson never heard his mother’s story before her 70s is unbelievable. She kept it locked inside all of those years.
I loved Zhanna’s wry humor, and some of her comments made me laugh out loud. She was a character, and her can-do attitude helped her survive. This story has as many twists and turns as any work of fiction. The fact that Zhanna’s story is true makes it even more fascinating.
I give Hiding in the Spotlight by Greg Dawson 5 out of 5 stars.
Surviving the Forest by Adiva Geffen
The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield