The Girl in the Red Coat was a debut novel by the Polish writer Roma Ligocka. It was a spectacular success, as the story of a little girl surviving through the Holocaust was a real tearjerker. Her newest novel The Good Child proves that the World War II was not the only trauma that the writer had to cope with.
Adolescence is always the time of great turmoil. The 12-year-old Roma lives only with her mother, since the rest of the family had died. The girl struggles to find her way through the new world, which she does not understand. She is a Jew but she does not have to hide anymore. She goes to school, she has her dreams and interests. Nonetheless she is still full of fear about the only parent that has left, her mother Teofila.
The Good Child is a very intimate autobiography. The author uses fragments of her grandmother's diary. These pre-war notes helped young Roma to survive through hard times, because they depicted a different, forgotten world, in which her family used to live. It is visible in her mother's inability to adjust to the new reality, as she once used to be a spoiled daughter living in the world of glamourous parties and luxuries. Roma is the victim of her mother's frustration.
The mother-daughter relationship is full of intense emotions. Roma is constantly worried about her suicidal mother. The older woman sees Roma as a lunatic hidden in her own reality. Her mother's affair with a married man only makes things worse. Roma is paranoid, she starts to read her mother's letters, she eavesdrops every conversation. Eating and physical contact repulse her. And she still remains alone.
It is difficult for me to evaluate Roma Ligocka's novel. It is as difficult as to criticize someone's experiences. Roma did not choose her fate, first as a war child, later as an abandoned teenager. Thanks to painting and writing she has found her identity , but she will probably run away for the rest of her life. In this sad, very personal story there is some place for hope. The Good Child enabled the author to leave the past behind and see the relationship with her mother from a new perspective. I truly hope that she did.
Roma Ligocka (born Rominka Liebling, 13 November 1938 in Kraków, Poland) is a Polish costume designer, writer, and painter. Her novel The Girl in the Red Coat was inspired by Steven Spielberg's movie Schindler's List. After watching the movie she recognized herself as a Jewish child that wore a red coat. (Source: wikipedia.pl)