General Fiction, Young Adult

By Cynthia Polansky

Publisher : Martin & Lawrence Press

ABOUT Cynthia Polansky

Cynthia Polansky
Cynthia Polansky challenges her inner rebel by writing across genres.  She is the author of paranormal women's novel, Remote Control; historical novel Far Above Rubies; and four dog-breed reference books. Her weekly blog, Crossing Polansky,"the blog about everything," is a nod t More...


On the morning of May 10, 1940, the last thing Sofie Rijnfeld expected was the sky to start raining German paratroopers. She and Jan, her husband of 3 years, were living contentedly in Amsterdam with Jan's six daughters. Life held the promise of a bright future for the Rijnfelds, until the German occupation of Holland and a six-pointed star made of yellow cloth with the word Jood in the middle.

As the Nazi persecution of Europe's Jewry escalates, all six Rijnfeld girls are called up for deportation. Rather than allow her stepdaughters to venture alone to an arcane fate, Sofie insists on accompanying them, ignoring the dangerous implications. In Auschwitz, Sofie discovers a strength and ingenuity she never knew she had, but can her indomitable spirit help keep her daughters alive?A must-read for adults and young adults alike, this is based on the true story of a woman who refuses to be bested by circumstances. Like a phoenix, she rises from the ashes of tragedy to triumph as a heroine who calls to mind the passage from Proverbs, "A woman of valor, who can find? For her price is FAR ABOVE RUBIES."

While volunteering with Facing History and Ourselves, an organization dedicated to eradicating hate and prejudice through education, I became a docent to guide tours through the traveling photo exhibit "Anne Frank in the World." Each tour culminated in a brief lecture by a Holocaust survivor or adult child of a survivor. After hearing my friend Mieneke tell the story of her aunt in Holland who refused to let her stepdaughters be taken to a concentration camp alone, I realized this story needed to be heard beyond the scope of the exhibit. With Mieneke's blessing, I wrote a novel based on her aunt's experiences before, during, and after WWII. Though FAR ABOVE RUBIES is technically fiction, it tells the true story of one woman's incredible courage and spirit.

Far Above Rubies" by Cynthia Polansky a brilliant literary historical fiction narrative. Polansky has given tribute to...a selfless woman of incredible strength. The novel is based on the woman known by her niece as "Tante Soof." Sofie was a [Dutch] Jew who married a man with six wonderful girls. Although not their biological [mother], she became their mother... So much so that when her six girls were summoned to report for resettlement, Sofie decided she could not let them go alone. Sophie made a mother’s sacrifice to her six stepdaughters, [selflessly] and with love. She willingly accepted deportation and yet had to persuade the SS to take her. The horrors of Auschwitz told through the eyes of Sophie are real. This unflinching woman who faced up to the SS, survived the atrocities of this death camp even though at times she jeopardized her own life to help her daughters and other prisoners. Tante Soof lived life with dignity and an ability to inspire hope in hundreds who would not live another day. You will feel an inspirational uplift unmatched when you read this moving memoir [sic] who Polansky quotes from Proverbs, “A woman of valor who can find? For her price is far above rubies.”

I couldn’t put this book down as I read in awe about this exceptional woman, so plan on a late night."

                                                               -- Donna Edwards for A Bookworm's Dinner



"I hope this book will eventually become as well-known as The Hiding Place and The Diary of Anne Frank...A woman more compassionate and loving would indeed be very difficult to find -- a woman willing to give up her life for that of her stepdaughters, leaving behind the love of her life, in order to take care of his daughters to give him the peace of mind that at least the seven of them are together...[a] Powerful story with a powerful telling.
-- Maria Elmvang for Armchair Interviews

"Polansky has written a good and important story here...at times it felt as if Polansky herself was there. The writing is very good...very vivid and well-done...it struck a lot of authentic emotional notes...great job! "                         -- Writer's Digest

"When the Rijnfeld women are sent on to Auschwitz, Sofie reaches deeper for the resilience to keep her daughters and herself alive in the face of atrocities carried out at the Reich’s foremost killing center.  Although the book is fiction, Polansky bases it on fact. Sofie did exist and she did accompany her stepdaughters all the way to Auschwitz.  Polansky tells Sofie’s story of self-sacrifice filling in fictionally how those years may have unfolded.  Reading the frightening truth about the Holocaust is never easy, but the triumph of this woman who survives despite great loss is inspiring."
-- Kim Peterson forReader Views


"Few books leave me thinking of it days after finishing it.  Even fewer can make me cry.  Far Above Rubies touched me like so few others can ... [it] is a gripping novel ... while one can read it quickly, to do so would almost be a shame, as this is a tale of courage and survival worth digesting one word at a time.  Polansky has taken the life of a strong woman and put a spotlight on it, showing us just how so many others like Sofie persevered during such horrific times.  This is the story of more than one woman -- it is the story of terrible times, all those who were lost, and how life still went on.  And it is a story worth your time."
 -- Angela Giles Klocke for KlockePublishing

" ... Cynthia Polansky skillfully depicts the courage of heart that cannot be broken by man's cruelties.  Far Above Rubies incorporates, within Sofie's story, the story of all who suffered at Nazi's hands ... Rubies begins with the end, offering a whole picture of life renewed from the ashes of destruction.  Polansky tackles this incomprehensible subject with integrity and honesty.  Keep a box of Kleenex nearby while reading [it]."
                                                            -- Dena Kosche for
Women on Writing
"... the novel appears to be the result of tedious research, documenting this terrible era in detail ... Despite the subject matter, the book is an easy read, full of the lives of the people who survived or perished in the labor camps.  The author creates characters who are real and imperfect and just happen to be Jewish, sealing their destiny for no other reason.  Everyone should know about this time in our history andFar Above Rubies provides an intriguing glimpse into those years we should never forget."
                                                    -- Conny Bryceland for ScribesWorld.com

"... this is a largely true story, recounted by the niece of the woman it concerns.  Polansky has used her intuition and imagination to unravel [Mieneke's] aunt's life story, and has handled this difficult tale with honesty and wisdom.  This is an uncompromising text, stark, often intensely distressing -- I have wept several times whilst reading it ... the writing style is powerful and needs no further comment ... to venture, even in the imagination into the dark places Sofie saw, takes courage.  Polansky has done something very special in creating this personal history."                      -- Bryn Colvin for EbookReviews.net

"... Polansky presents in this novel a gorgeous and haunting story of self-sacrifice and love.  Based on a real-life character whose life experiences she overheard at a Holocaust memorial, Far Above Rubies details the effect of the Holocaust on Dutch Jews, particularly those from Amsterdam ... Polansky synthesizes historical fact here with well-drawn, memorable characters in recreating scenes from Amsterdam and the camps ... Polansky's work is written with painstaking attention to grisly historical facts; this is what makes it most compelling.  Readers of other Holocaust [books] such as The Diary of Anne Frank or the work of Corrie ten Boom, will find Far Above Rubies a valuable addition to the range of voices that have been lifted before.  The title, incidentally, is from Proverbs, a story about a loving and true wife:  "Her price/Is far above rubies."  Polansky's work itself is priceless."
                                                           -- Julie Sandland for KnowBetter.com