Myra was only looking for a room to rent while she was in college. She wasn’t looking for a friend or new family member. When she answered Helen Stein’s ad for a room for rent, she got more than she expected. During the interview, she noticed the number tattooed on Helen’s arm and knew that Helen had a story to tell. Helen recounted her younger years of innocence and fun with her family only to be destroyed by the evil Hitler and the Holocaust. Helen’s friend, Max, had tried to save her and her brother from the Nazis. He had given Helen a pretty dress to try to lift her spirits. After she was captured, she found the dress in a pile of old clothes and clung to that dress to remind her of happier times. Once she was freed, all she had was a scrap left covered in her brother’s blood to remind her of all she endured.
Even though this was a fictional account of the Holocaust, Helen’s experiences were heart wrenching because we know that atrocities such as this actually happened. Paulette Mahurin has done an excellent job in retelling the events based on the life and memories of a young survivor. However, Helen is telling this story to a young woman so I felt that it was inappropriate for her to mention all the times she masturbated and the in-depth details of her sexual assault.
One of the darkest times in human history was the insane design and execution to rid the world of Jews and “undesirables.” At the hands of the powerful evil madman Adolf Hitler, families were ripped apart and millions were slaughtered. Persecution, torture, devastation, and enduring the unthinkable remained for those who lived. This is the story of one woman who lived to tell her story. This is a narrative of how a young beautiful teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn asunder, ultimately bringing her to Auschwitz. It was there she suffered heinous indignity at the hands of the SS. It was also there, in that death camp, she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. Written by the award-winning, best-selling author of His Name Was Ben, comes a story of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave you thinking about Helen Stein and The Seven Year Dress for years to come after the last page is shut.