About the Book
The incredible true story of one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz—an accessible, inspirational Holocaust memoir for middle-grade readers.
In 1945, in a now-famous piece of archival footage, four-year-old Michael Bornstein was filmed by Soviet soldiers being led out of Auschwitz in his grandmother’s arms. Here is the unforgettable story of how a father’s courageous wit, a mother’s fierce love, and one perfectly timed illness saved his life. And this is not just Michael’s story, but the story of a family that dodged and deceived death time and again with incredible deftness. Working from his own recollections as well as extensive interviews with other family members and survivors who knew the family, Michael relates his inspirational story with the help of his daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat. Shocking, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, this is an indelible depiction of what happened in one Polish village in the wake of the German invasion in 1939.
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“This book is published as narrative nonfiction for young readers, but the equal measures of hope and hardship in its pages lend appeal to an audience of all ages . . . Remarkable.” —Ruta Sepetys in the New York Times Book Review
“A wrenching, shocking, and ultimately inspiring memoir, a tale of unrelenting optimism and resilience that is no less than miraculous . . . [Survivors Club] is hauntingly timely.” —Esquire
“Enhanced by meticulous archival research, Bornstein’s story unfolds in novelistic form . . . This moving memoir [is] an important witness to the capacity for human evil and resilience.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“[An] exceptional book of memoir and history . . . worth reading more than once. It is compelling; there is something novelistic about it. It certainly reads with more verve and detail than most straight testimonies . . . Although listed for ages 10 – 14, it also makes excellent adult reading.” —Jewish Book Council, starred review
“A tenderly wrought tribute to family, to hope, and to the miracles both can bring. A powerful memoir.” —Booklist
“The most memorable part of this extraordinary nonfiction work is the hope amidst tragedy and the ways individuals and families banded together despite unimaginable odds, including the challenges to rebuild after breaking free from the concentration camps only to find a world still filled with hatred and fear.” —VOYA
“A powerful reconstruction of family history . . . An ideal follow-up selection for students who have read The Diary of Anne Frank.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Middle schoolers will be engrossed by Bornstein’s account . . . The book is written in a soothing tone, which helps balance some of the grim details of Jewish life under the Nazi regime . . . The storytelling is fast-paced, and readers will be fascinated by this family’s survival and endurance. Few Holocaust survivors are still alive; Bornstein’s account is an excellent addition to middle school collections.” —School Library Journal
“In today's world, it remains more important than ever to remember these survivors.” —Kirkus Reviews
Survivors Club in the News
This guide is aligned with Common Core Standards for 6th grade but can be applied to grades 4-8. To attain specific Common Core Standards for their classrooms and students, teachers are encouraged to adapt the activities listed in this guide to their classes’ needs. You know your kids best!
Michael Bornstein survived for seven months inside Auschwitz, where the average lifespan of a child was just two weeks. After the war, Michael reunited with his mother, who had been deported to an Austrian labor camp. Together, they immigrated to New York City in 1951. Michael earned his Ph.D. and worked in pharmaceutical research and development for more than forty years. Now retired, Michael lives with his wife in New York City and in New Jersey, and visits middle schools and high schools in the tri-state area, telling of his experiences in the Holocaust.
Debbie Bornstein Holinstat is Michael Bornstein’s third of four children. A producer for NBC and MSNBC News, she lives in North Caldwell, New Jersey. She also visits schools with her father, and has been working with him for two years, helping him research and write his memoir, Survivor's Club, although she has grown up hearing many of the stories in the book her entire life.