The Third Daughter
Imagine living in fear every day of your life not knowing whether your family or friends would be killed. A violent riot aimed at one ethic group an organized massacre of innocent people: a pogrom. Unannounced and sporadic, never knowing when they were coming and mercilessly killing innocent s people usually Jews: an antisemitic movement. A family trying to get by with a meager amount of money and food are at the heart of the start of this novel.
Betrayals and deceptions as a man named Moskowitz takes to this family and convinces Batya’s father to allow him to take her to Argentina, Buenos Aires as his wife but she’s just 14 and although the mother was not convinced that this was a good idea the promises he pretended to make and the money he gave them solidified the unscrupulous deal. Batya has no idea of what would happen to her and the truth behind why she was chosen becomes abundantly clear yet not quite to her. Naive and not very worldly she never sees the abuse coming nor understands why Moskowitz defiles her and then leaves her with another man on a boat that is Luke a prison in many ways. Grabovsky is unsavory and is her chaperone and uses her for his own pleasures until Batya learns the hard and cold facts as her parents were tricked into sending her with him as she becomes part of a brothel. Entering this life her mind and body cry out for hope and the pain within her is so great she can hardly move or function. But the house she’s sent to work in has women that bonded as a unit and the kindness and affection they show her gives Batya a small renewed spirit. Yet she somehow thinks that she is really going to find Moskowitz’s sister is she does exist at all. Life will take hard turns for her as author Talia Carner takes us deep inside the world of prostitution and sex trafficking in as it as it states in the author’s notes is based and inspired by real events. “It is the tragic story of over 150,000 women who in the late 19 th and early 20th centuries were deceived and lured from Eastern Europe into prostitution in South America.”
Moskowitz lures Batya’s family into a false sense of hope and security leading them to believe that somehow, he would help them get what they needed to come to America, and they fell for it.
Disease ridden , infections from what these unclean men did to her, with the help from Rochel one of the girls and Nettie and Freda she was kept alive and brought back to health but at what future cost?
With her sister and parents not knowing what happened to her and the loss of her best friend at the hand of the Russian pogroms, Batya will have to embrace her future in a world that a 14,year old should never endure.
Harsh realities set in and Batya learns from the other girls her sisters as they call themselves the true meaning of friendship and loyalty. Letters from home were sparse and her parent’s harsh words had to be beaded as she only wanted to spare her sister the same fate, she was hardly willing to have her experience.
Learning who Moskowitz really was and the falsehoods behind his romantic gestures, Batya would come face to face with her own naive thoughts and the anger within in her was nothing compared to learning of the death of her mother and the birth of the third daughter, Vida. With her sisters at her side she was able to say the prayer to mourn her mother’s death and allowed the 7 days of Shiva. But things would take a different turn . The atrocities that she endured the rapes that Moskowitz inflicts on her and the truth behind his dealings as we learn more about this organization that fosters the sale of these young Jewish girls into slavery for profit. Yet as you hear them talk and you get to know each one you realize that individually they have their own moral standards, their hope for survival and prayers of freedom someday.
Batya does not realize yet the true deceptions created by Moskowitz and yet she continues to work in the brothel hoping to build enough money to bring her family to America.
Going to temple was a traumatic experience and the words used to describe her horrific. Her job was considered low life and her position even lower. Freda was not kind at all and often took money for things like two much food or using too much electric added in she learns the truth about Moskowitz’s status and her prayers for freedom go unanswered once more. The author shows us in many ways the indignities that these young girls endured and how they bonded to a point . When Nettie is taken to the hospital even the staff there treats her like dirt it’s so sad and unfair.
The sadness of losing a sister and the unified way the sisters buried her in dignity and the hope that finding a sacred and special prayer book would sustain her and give her hope and strength.
More clients and different situations as Batya becomes immersed in learning more about other options in the different Jewish communities but no matter where she goes or sneaks out to the harsh realities of the prejudices against what she’s become hurts her from within but she as the others has no choice and survival is her hope.
A client that writes letters for her and a family that responds lacking the truth of her situation. A chance encounter and a plan that might set her free or will it? Does anyone ever get away from the Zwi Migdal? Asked to testify and relate what she endured will they believe her tragic story? Yet a client wants her to become part of his life will that free her and will he help her get her orphaned little sister?
Then Moskowitz has a vision and things take a different turn as he builds another exclusive brothel and Rochel has visions involving it if her own. With her testimony recorded, searching the discarded newspapers for information and the hope to rescue her family Batya learns even more about the indignities that will befall anyone new coming to this house and the rapes and beatings to get them to submit but will she take her ticket to freedom? At times she’s naive and wants to put her trust in people at others she’s blindsided by their betrayal and deceit.
An ending that will take your breath away and a young 19-year-old that learned some hard lessons in life that most today might not have survived. A dance partner offering one form of freedom and a client a different route. Which direction will she take and what about a Moskowitz? Slavery has a different kind of meaning and the justification and rationale behind this group is more than frightening its diabolical and sadistic. Money for hire you might say and winning a contest raised her stakes but who profits in the end?
Some endings are new beginnings, and some make you stronger. Batya has character, strength and loyalties to those that deserve her trust, faith and support. Just how does this end and will she find freedom? What about her sisters and what will she learn from this at the end? Author Talia Carner’s research allows readers to experience within the timeline of this historical novel based on real life events the truth behind the sex trafficking, the inner workings and conditions of the brothels and those who justified their actions and greed. Power, control, fear, slavery and anti- Semitism all are just some issues brought to light in this powerfully charged novel as Batya hopes to save her family and of course the Third Daughter.
Fran Lewis just reviews