When Grownups Play at War is the unique, compelling memoir of a young Polish Jewish girl during the Second World War. In an authentic voice based on first-hand experience, Gruda gives us a rare perspective on the life of a family fleeing from Poland to Uzebekistan. Her account lays bare the trials of coming of age amidst the constant upheavals of her wartime years. Gruda conveys a sense of immediacy and humanity to her description of the daily realities of the wartime experiences of so many Jewish refugees on the eastern front. We travel beside her in train and cart, in bitter cold and dusty heat across war-torn Eastern Europe. With vivid, haunting strokes, she paints portraits of the people and cultures she comes to know along the way. Gruda writes through the eyes of a child with rare irony and painful honesty, allowing us an occasional glimpse of a sly sense of humour and revealing the wisdom of the adult she later became.
Ilona Flutsztejn-Gruda was born in Poland in 1930. She immigrated to Canada in 1968, where she was a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Quebec for 23 years. Since retiring, she has been working with the Polish Jewish Heritage Foundation to publish Holocaust survivors' memoirs.