The Red Thread
Peter Ibbetz is an old man with old memories, and they haunt his dreams with increasing clarity and repetition. A Holocaust survivor, Peter has spent his last 70+ years in Weequahic, New Jersey, in the same apartment. The only things that change are the people around him. He has few friends and does not talk about the war or his losses. The subjects are taboo to him. And then the dreams start.
That’s how The Red Thread starts, and draws the reader in. The only woman he loved, Miriam (Mira) Schloss, was lost to him, and now his dreams bring her back.
Rebekah Pace draws the reader into the story through an old Chinese proverb that explains how lovers, soulmates, “linked by destiny remain connected through space and time by a red thread.”
Pace uses this proverb to show this link through Peter’s dreams, when he again meets Mira and spends time with her—time that they never had together, time in their youth.
Pace sets the tone with tension and conflict—both through Peter’s waking hours and his dreams. His dreams are vivid, and he experiences a determination to learn about Mira’s fate: He becomes more driven to learn about Mira’s life, or her death. While the dreams are key to the decisions that Peter makes, there are times when they repeat events and leave the reader scanning forward a paragraph here and there, but on the whole, Pace does a good job of outlining the lives that these two young people never got to share.
The red thread is obvious throughout the story in several ways. In their youth, Mira gave Peter a locket—a piece of jewelry her father had given her, and she feared it would be stolen at the camp during the war—he was to keep it safe for her. It was strung on a red ribbon.
But the red thread is also apparent through Peter’s dreams, as each dream draws them closer together to experience the love that remains throughout their lives. Peter interprets these dreams, and this connection, as an indication that Mira is still alive, that she is connecting with him and she is calling him to find her.
Pace does a good job of keeping this connection alive in Peter’s character through a first-person point of view so the reader is never out of Peter’s mind and experiences firsthand everything that Peter experiences. As Peter’s life changes through his dreams, the reader feels these changes as well.
Her dream creations are also interesting. The only two people that ever appear in the dreams are Mira and Peter. When they arrive at a restaurant, food is already set for them; when they shop in their home town, there are no shop owners or other shoppers; when they are at home, their parents and neighbors are not there. And yet, they are never quite alone. How often our own dreams have taken us in that same direction.
The reader is always left with the question, Will Peter really find Mira? It seems like a search that is set for disappointment, and yet the red thread continues to enter into the story in the form of people he meets; people who seem to know what he is looking for without him asking for their help.
The Red Thread has a mystery about it as most myths do. In its mystery, the reader is torn between wanting it solved, while at the same time fearing that it will be solved.
This is a poignant story about love lost and perhaps love found—either through reality or through dreams. The Red Thread is a keeper.