The Wrestler from Montreal is a saga about two young brothers who become orphaned when their village was burned. The only survivors were Avrum Vishinsky, age nine, and his brother Hershel, seven. Approximately 80 people were killed.
Before their mother died, she delivered a heritage to her sons. As the story continues, the reader will see how important this heritage is and what it meant to the two sons and how no man could change it.
Avrum and Hershel had nothing to eat or drink. They were afraid the militiamen might return so decided to climb into the hills. They did not go very far into the hills because it was important to keep sight of the road. Finally, they saw an isolated house. An old woman lived there and instead of helping the two boys she beat them with a poker. Avrum was tied to the stove. The lady kept yelling, “He is mine. Dirty…filthy Jew, I’ll kill you.” Avrum yelled for Hershel to run away.
The two brothers are now separated and must endure another traumatic experience in such a short period.
Several lumbermen take Avrum to the forests of Zamboor and Urman in the Ukraine. He remains with these men for quite a long time. After he is grown up, Avrum’s desire is to search for his brother. Avrum finds out that Hershel is alive and living in America. As Avrum’s life continues, he decides to go to America. However, he ends up in Montreal, Canada and becomes a professional wrestler.
Eventually, the two brothers are reunited. The heritage that their mother left them played a major role and showed that, no matter what happened as they each led a different way of life during their time apart, it would bring them back together and make them even stronger.
“The Wrestler from Montreal opens with such dramatic action that it will remain with the reader for a long time. I knew that after reading the first few pages of this book that this was going to be an engrossing read. It does not take very long to realize that Arnold Holtzman is very passionate about the subject of this book. You could feel that his words were coming from within and this was something he wanted to convey to the reader.
The author does an excellent job of character portrayal. The descriptions are clear and concise and you can picture what the person looks like in your mind. The character that really stands out to me is the old woman who beat the two boys. The author does such a great job with this character that after reading this book, she is one that will remain in your thoughts for a long time. The reader will feel her hatred for Jews come through. The reader will also feel the pain that the two brothers felt as they went through this ordeal.
On a personal note, I think this book would make an excellent movie. The Wrestler from Montreal has action, history, well-defined characters and a good story. What more would we want to see in a good movie?
Arnold Holtzman states “The Wrestler from Montreal brings a mirror to an inimitable generation of Jewish immigrants to America who are no longer with us. This is the author's salute to them.” I must congratulate Mr. Holtzman on this book because this novel is a wonderful tribute to the Jewish immigrants who are no longer with us. It could not be done any better. The Wrestler from Montreal is a book you should all read. This is a moving story about the power of a mother’s heritage left to her young children, the bond of two brothers and the struggle it took to survive. It ranks way up there with the best I have read so far this year. It is both an entertaining read and one that will make you do some deep thinking.
REVIEWED BY NANCY EATON
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