Life In A Jar

Mayer, Jack

  18 Reviews

Virtually unknown in her native Poland, Irene Sendler's World War II exploits organising the rescue of Jewish babies, were brought to prominence in 1999 by three American high school students developing a play for a National History Day project in Kansas. In a poetic counterweight to the inhumanity of the Holocaust, this project demonstrated just the opposite: Protestant American school children celebrating the work of a Catholic woman saving Jewish babies in a Polish ghetto.

An edifying story of courage, unsung heroes and the inspiration of people working together to make a difference.

Comments from Groups

The discussion our Book Club had after reading "Life in a Jar" was probably the most "in-depth" and stimulating we'd ever had. Although most of the content was appalling, there was an uplifting element also. Most definitely a recommended read. Amberley 001

Very moving. Christchurch 125

We had mixed opinions on this book. Several of us thought it was too long, but were pleased to have learnt the story. Hamilton 034

The group agreed that this was an "important read', and were grateful to have been exposed to Irena Sendler's story. Too much to talk about - however it was a very positive discussion. Christchurch 229

The story of Irena Sendler was of great interest, but most readers did not like the style, finding it too simplistic. There were mixed reactions to the story of the Kansas girls - some found this fascinating, others were bored by it. All agreed the wartime treatment of Jews was unfathomable and reprehensible, and that Irena and all those that helped showed great courage. We could not imagine ourselves in those circumstances, or know how we would act... Auckland 050

We were all very pleased to have learnt about Irena Sendler. The style of writing irritated some, but the total story was well worth the read. A fascinating lady; and we all wondered how we would cope in the same situation. It is a story that needs to be told, and all credit to the students and their teacher. Dannevirke 001



CHCH 518
We had a good discussion about this book, and how and why some people are able to step up in dreadful situations and show bravery and compassion. The book introduced readers to a previously unheard of inspirational figure of WWII.
ROTO 014
Enjoyed by all. A moving and interesting read.
CHCH 395
A tough book to read but well worth it.
All thoroughly enjoyed this book.
BALC 001
An incredibly moving account about a truly amazing woman! What a shame that Irena hasn't had the accolades in her younger years for all that she did for so many young Jewish children.
We all found this a stimulating book - despite the fact that it is not particularly well-written. But the two stories, one of the students from a poor Kansas school in the early 21st century, and the other of a Polish woman who rescued Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during World War 2, were gripping. It's not easy to read Holocaust stories - perhaps because we tend to avoid dwelling on such horror as we age - but we were moved by Irena Sendler's determination and courage. We also admired the dedication of the history teacher who inspired his students to research Sendler's life.
The majority of our group has been involved in education and found this story of the girls and their teacher inspiring. What students do in school can make a difference in the world and this book illustrates that beautifully. The girls formed partnerships across the globe and with the support of their teacher, parents and other adults went on to tell a story about a group of courageous people who saved 2500 Jewish children. There were parts that were incredibly difficult to read but such atrocities still happen and no doubt there are many more heroes out there whose stories are just waiting.
CHCH 480
Generated great discussion. Part 1 and 2 were slower and not as well written. Part 2 was gripping and "exhausting to read". Discussion around visiting camps in Europe varied.
Some of us really loved this amazing story of Irena Sendler, and also the stories of the students and the journey they went on in their lives because of their history project. The photos bring it to life. However others in the group, whilst appreciating the awfulness of Warsaw and the persecution of the Jews in WW2, and Irena's (and others') bravery, reminded us all that because of the awfulness then, we now have it in present-day Israel and Palestine. Good discussion.
CHCH 194
An excellent book - and long overdue recognition of the bravery of people in Warsaw during the war. The book also focussed on the schoolgirls who were inspired by a great teacher - to go beyond their usual class work - and achieve so much for themselves and others. The book is particularly inspiring as it shows the power of individuals. The format was different - and the early chapters seemed quite simple and lightweight for the topic - but it worked so well for providing contrast with the harrowing middle section. Not an enjoyable read - but we all felt it should be read and recommended.
AUCK 335
Not a book to 'enjoy' but we all thought it was well worth reading. The story of Irene Sendler is deeply moving, at times harrowing, and challenging. The framing of the Warsaw section was interesting but the final section struck us as too long and detailed and somewhat repetitive. The fictionalised account of life (and death) in the ghetto was gripping, at times hard to read, and very sobering. In a time of what seems to be increasing intolerance of difference this is an important book.
AUCK 293
This is an absolutely inspiring book about bravery, commitment and determination of one woman saving Jewish babies and children from the Polish Ghetto during German occupation. To put yourself at risk for people you don't really know is so noble. We all loved this book and will keep on recommending it to all those who will listen!
A great title. A profoundly moving account of Irena Sendler's attempt to remove Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. We all know of the atrocities committed by the Nazis and the terrible events of the Holocaust. How inspiring to read of Irena Sendler and the effect her story had on 3 young women from Kansas.
Everyone felt that it's a story that still needs to be told, but thought that it would have stood as well on its own without the students.
WARK 006
Everyone read the book and all enjoyed it. This was a first! Discussed the horrors of the ghetto proclamation and the racism and destruction of a people. We made reference to the current political climate both in the US and Australia. One person had seen the film of the book and another had read of the destruction of Eastern Poland by Russia and Germany that led to the coming of young Polish children to NZ in 1944.
Great book!
NEWP 013
Although the subject matter was harrowing, the group enjoyed the format of the story. There was lively discussion about the topic. Told as fiction made the story more interesting.
All thought this book was an incredible read - and we all learned so much. Not one of us had heard of Irena before.