Between the Lines: When I Grow Up

By :  Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary Posted On Jan 26, 2022 / 5782 | Author Conversations: Between the Lines

Author Ken Krimstein discussed his book, When I Grow Up, a graphic narrative based on newly discovered, never-before-published autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish teens on the brink of WWII—found in 2017 hidden in a Lithuanian church cellar.

These autobiographies, long thought destroyed by the Nazis, were written as entries for three competitions held in Eastern Europe in the 1930s, just before the horror of the Holocaust forever altered the lives of the young people who wrote them.

In When I Grow Up, Krimstein shows us the stories of six young men and women in riveting, almost cinematic narratives, full of humor, yearning, ambition, and all the angst of the teenage years. Beautifully illustrated, heart-wrenching, and bursting with life, When I Grow Up has the power to remind us all of what life-altering events take away—and why we need to celebrate and listen to these voices from the past.

Deeply affecting yet often joyful . . . Krimstein’s loose-lined drawings shift between sobriety and humor, while footnotes provide context . . . By depicting the personalities of youth lost—with easy beauty and a lack of preciosity—rather than how they died, Krimstein conveys the depth of human and cultural loss that much more profoundly.” 

Publishers Weekly, starred review

This event is sponsored by The JTS Library. Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, will serve as moderator.


Ken Krimstein has published cartoons in the New Yorker, Punch, the Wall Street Journal, and more. He is the author of The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt, which won the Bernard J. Brommel Award for Biography and Memoir, and was a finalist for the Jewish Book Award and the Chautauqua Prize, and also of Kvetch as Kvetch Can. He lives and writes and draws in Evanston, Illinois.