Anita Diamont's novel Day After Night is set in late 1945 inside a "camp" in Haifa, just after the victims of the concentration camps have been freed and victory has been won in Europe. Many Jews, upon release from their nightmarish conditions (whether from a concentration camp, being hidden, or from concealment of identity), decide that the time has come for them to emigrate to Israel, their promised land. Unfortunately quotas for Jewish emigration to Israel have been enacted, and those without proper identification or family find themselves "held" in Atlit, a camp that is nothing more than a holding pen while their fates are decided. It is within this camp that Diamont's story focuses on four young women whose divergent stories come together as an escape is planned into the Promised Land.
Based on a true story, Day After Night brings to light the plight of many Jews, who having survived the Holocaust, found themselves interned once more while the slow wheels of government turned. Zorah, Tedi, Shayndel, and Leonie spent the war years in different ways but all have decided that their best hope to escape the past lies in living within a kibbutz in Israel. The story alternates between the women as they try to come to terms with their pasts as they prepare for an uncertain future. All of the women have special gifts that enable them to be leaders in the secret escape planned for the almost two hundred Jews trapped within the camp, yet they find themselves at the mercy of their demons, unable to forgive themselves for surviving when so many others perished.
Day Into Night is a glimpse into the aftermath of the Holocaust, a time I admit to knowing little about beforehand. I liked how Diamont revealed the layers of the characters slowly, bringing their private griefs to the surface as the result of events going on around them. There is not a great deal of background revealed, but what does come to light shows the justification for actions and emotions. I do wish that a clearer explanation of what a kibbutz is had been supplied (and might be in the final edition, as this was an advanced reader copy), and a little more story on how each woman got along in the immediate days after escape would have been welcome. But this is indeed a well-told tale, and I found myself caught up completely within the lives of these fictional women thrown into a very real event. Recommended.