Gravedigger’s daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

Had it been a movie I’m sure it would fall under drama, but as far as I know there’s no such dividing up books. Except a few exceptions, like crime story, fantasy and possibly some other as well. Apart from that everything else seem to fall under the label fiction.

However this one is not pure fictional, it is partly based the story of Joyce’s grandmothers life.

It’s the late 30’s, the German-jewish family Schwart arrives in New York, they are on the run from the nazists. The main character of the book, Rebecca Schwart is born on the ship, In New Yorks harbour, automatically becoming a US citizen, and the only one that doesn’t need a visa or passport. Her father kept saying “You are born here, you will be ok”.

Her father get a job as a gravedigger and caretaker at the cemetery in the small town of Milburn in the state of New York. It was the only job he could get, even though he had a good education, and had been a maths teacher in their hometown. The life in Milburn isn’t easy, not for anyone of the Schwart’s family, on one Halloween’s night someone paints swastikas on their door. They are constantly mucked with in some way or another.

After a violent tragedy Rebecca leaves the home and eventually get a job as maid at a hotel. She meet her husband there, but the tragedy doesn’t end.

We get to follow Rebeccas journey, not only through the states of America, but also her journey from being the gravedigger’s daughter, to becoming the mother of a famous pianist.

She travels through America with her son, Rebecca only want what is best for her him. On the way she changes identity and becomes Hazel Jones. They are on the run, scared that her husband will find them.

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