The Grave of God’s Daughter

Written by Brett Ellen Block
Review by Audrey Braver

The Grave of God’s Daughter is set in a western Pennsylvania town in 1941, just before America’s involvement in World War II. The heroine is the twelve-year-old daughter of a Polish family. The parents, both hard workers, struggle to make ends meet, but their money problems are complicated by the father’s alcoholism and a family secret. Religion plays a big part in the household and prayers are offered up daily to an icon, “The Black Madonna.” One day it is gone, and its disappearance never mentioned. The daughter finds it in a pawnshop and, vowing to redeem it, secretly takes a job as delivery “boy” for the butcher. The most hated woman in town is murdered. The solution to the mystery surrounding this event has a devastating effect on the narrator.

Ms. Block has written a beautifully detailed coming-of-age story to which almost everyone can relate, and tells it in a thirty-year flashback as the daughter stands by her mother’s grave, remembering it as the moment in her life when everything changed. The author has a clear, concise narrative style, a pleasure to read.