Book Review: Mitch Albom Spins Moving Holocaust Tale in ‘The Little Liar’

November 13, 2023

Mitch Albom’s books often capture the zeitgeist, but his new novel about the fate of Greek Jews during World War II packs a particular punch in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7.

“The Little Liar” tells the story of four interconnected characters, three of them Jews living in Salonika, Greece, at the onset of Germany’s invasion, and the other a Third Reich devotee carrying out Hitler’s orders on the Mediterranean island.

Nico Krispis is the title character and it’s his journey from a beautiful boy who has never told a lie to a Nazi pawn that drives the novel. Nico and his brother, Sebastian, are just boys when the story begins and by the end they’re middle-aged men who have lived lives defined by the choices they made during the war. Between them is their childhood friend Fannie, who both boys crushed on when they were growing up, and who Sebastian throws off a train bound for Auschwitz at the start of the novel.

The book’s narrator presents as the definition of reliable: “I am Truth. And this is a story about a boy who tried to break me.” Truth often breaks the fourth wall and “speaks” directly to the reader and sometimes the plot is broken up by parables, as in the one where Parable himself urges Truth to don colorful clothes instead of walking about naked and scaring the populace. That story precedes a chapter called “The Lie of Resettlement” — which explains the myth that Germans told Jews about their destination in the east where they would live and work with their families as they boarded cattle cars bound for concentration camps.

Revealing more plot details is counterproductive for a story whose full scope, like a distant image coming into focus through a lens, sharpens with each turn of the page. As with all Albom books, the pages turn quickly. For most, this is a book that will be read in just one or two sittings. But no matter how long it takes, it will stay with you.

Inspired by what really happened to 50,000 Jewish people living in Greece during the Holocaust, Albom has created art that can be added to the long list of movies, music, theater and books that are humanity’s best hope to deliver on the words inscribed on memorials around the world: “Never Forget.”



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