I decided it was time to name my book. It isn’t finished yet, but the title has been a thorn in my side for a while now. I started with a working title of “Tutti & Popje.” It was cute and it worked in my mind. I thought the book would be told from the point of view of the doll. That proved to be very difficult, especially since the doll didn’t enter the story until about half-way in. Then I tried to tell the story by having my mother, as a child, telling the doll all her thoughts. But that left out what her parents were doing, which was very significant.
Now the point of view switches from chapter to chapter. Some are told by Tutti and others by either her mother or father. So now, there are several problems with my original title. The title of “Tutti & Popje” only works for about 1/3 of the book. It doesn’t tell the reader anything. It doesn’t say, “read me, I’m interesting.” And it’s hard to pronounce: Tutti = tu-tee and Popje = pop-ya.
So this weekend, while I was visiting my parents for Yom Kippur, I invited everyone to try to help me come up with a better title. We spent the better part of a day brainstorming. I wrote down everything that was suggested, no matter how good, bad or ugly it may have been.
Some of the good ideas were:
- I Can Live with That – I have this line in the dialogue when my grandfather is trying to figure out how to not help the Nazi’s when they force him to work for them.
- J is for Jew – Sounds antisemitic, but conveys that the book is for and about children.
- What About the Children? – Another theme that goes through the book is that my grandparents constantly worried about their children.
Some of the bad ideas were:
- Hollow Cost – what can I say other than bad?
- Heads or Tails – again, just plain bad.
- Opportunity Knocks – cliché and generic.
Some of the ugly ideas were:
- The Dollocaust – disrespectful and weird.
- A Good Head – we were thinking about the money hidden in the dolls head, but this could easily be misinterpreted. Not a good idea for a YA book I want to be used in schools.
Some of the better ideas, but maybe for a different book:
- Cheating Eichmann – too political.
- Don’t Ask Why – I was always allowed to ask questions.
- Stroke of Luck – there wasn’t one big lucky break, but many little ones.
- Never Give Up – yes, but generic.
Then, it came to me. It came in a slow, sneaky way. I had been trying to figure out what makes the whole story work. I had to get away from the doll and from anything too generic. I needed the core of this story. The central themes revolve around my grandmother’s optimism and my grandfather’s use of his business connections in the scrap metal world to make himself “useful” and therefore protect his life and that of many, many other people. I had to winnow these ideas down to their essence. If I put my grandfather and my grandmother together what did I get? Optimism and Scrap Metal. No. Hope and Metal. No. Hope and Scraps. No. Scraps and Hope. Closer. Scraps of Hope. That’s it. Scraps of Hope!
My new title for the book is Scraps of Hope: Surviving the Holocaust. This is a title that says “pick me up and read me.” Please let me know what you think.