Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: No One is Here Except All of Us

No One Is Here Except All of Us
By Ramona Ausubel
Riverhead February 2012
325 pages
From that library place 

Lena lives a life of contentment and routine with her brother, sister, and parents in her small Romanian village of Zalischik. Their isolation is so great that when word finally reaches them about the war through a mysterious refugee, it is too late to flee. Not knowing if their seclusion can save them, they decide to start over. Tomorrow will be the first day of the world. In the new world, there are no rules written. Spouses, children, and jobs can be exchanged. Beliefs can be rewritten. Can a new world save them from the horrors of the old world?

Have you ever listened to an incredibly beautiful piece of music where the meeting of hope and hopelessness actually made your heart hurt? Ramona Ausubel has written the prose version. As the reader, you know from the beginning that this can only end in tragedy. But the hope of these people and their faith in the world they have created makes a believer out of you as well.

This is, obviously, a novel about the power of story. Story can quite literally change your life. In this case, the story is a little fantastic. While it doesn’t cross over into real magical territory, there is a feeling that things can happen in this created world that might not occur in the normal world. Story becomes a collective history, a way to connect with people in your past and your future.

“Even though you have only been alive a few days, your story, our story, started a long time ago. Ours is a story I know, both the parts I saw with my eyes and the parts I did not. This kind of knowing comes from somewhere in my bones, somewhere in my heart. Someday, your children will ask what happened, and you will tell a new version, and this way, the story will keep living. Truth is not in the facts. The truth is in the telling…”

The characters in this novel are beautifully rendered. Although Lena is the main character, this book is so much about the concept of community and family. Each relationship is beautiful and heartbreaking – parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers new and old, friends and neighbors. Connection has never been more important or more fragile.

No One Is Here Except All of Us is a little bit of poetry and a little bit of magic interwoven with a beautiful story with memorable characters. This tale will make you smile and make you cry, often on the same page. These people and their stories will resonate with your heart for a long time. 


  1. This book sounds breathtaking, and incredibly unique. I hadn't heard of it before reading your review - so thank you for bringing it to my attention. It sounds like the kind of book that can sweep you in and break your heart within a matter of pages!

    Bonnie @

    1. It was really unique! Despite inadvertently reading many novels set around WWII this month, this one really stuck with me.

  2. You have definitely sold me on this book Lindsey - I can't wait to read it!