the story

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At the center of LOVE, SARAH is a woman whose difficult journey is the dominant thread in the story. Through their personal struggles, Sarah and the people who fill her life, reveal the mysteries of families, friendships and ambition. Their intertwined lives also reflect the complex reality of America during the Second World War.

Sarah Rosen is the oldest of five children in a struggling, working class, Jewish family in the Bronx. In 1932, when her father disappears, she hides her fears and doubts and becomes the emotional and financial support of the family.

Searching for a better job leads her to City Hall where Fiorello LaGuardia has just become Mayor of New York City. He is impatient, in a hurry to make changes and very demanding. She is one of many secretaries in the Mayor’s office and determined to succeed. When LaGuardia’s personal assistant cannot take the strain of the job and leaves, senior staff recommend Sarah.

Her new life at City Hall challenges Sarah to see the world in new ways. She finds an ally and friend in Eli, the Mayor’s press secretary. At the beginning of the War, he explains something she had not suspected — that the newspapers were hiding important stories on back pages. She tries to support Eli who is devastated by the lack of interest in saving Europe’s Jews. He helps Sarah in her search for work as a volunteer.

Despite the attempts to keep her family connected, Sarah’s family dissolves further after the bombing of Pearl Harbor . One brother becomes an unwilling Military Policeman in the Manzanar internment camp. His experience and quiet rebellion become an  exploration of the story of internment camps. Another brother grows up under enemy fire and anti-Semitism in the Philippines. In his last letter home, he confesses the secret which haunts him, a secret which has defined much of the family’s life.

With her brothers in the Army, Sarah looks for a chance to play a more active role in the War effort. Trying to hold the family together, she writes weekly letters with family news and War news. Because she needs to keep the job at City Hall, she looks for work as a volunteer and becomes a counselor at an organization helping refugees build a new life. The work is more demanding than she could have imagined, almost more than she can bear. Towards the end of the War, the organization becomes a temporary home for children secretly smuggled out of Europe. They are another window into the tragedies of war.