The Spark

Institute History

  • 1992 January Screenwriters Lab


Thirteen-year-old Gracie Singer only wants to hang out with her friends at Friendly’s. But the words her grandfather shares on his deathbed awaken her to something that will set her apart from everyone else in her affluent East Coast community….no matter how much she fights it.

Her grandfather, Yaacov, had survived Treblinka, but had lived in silence ever after. He saved only one thing, a diary written by his beloved friend, a 13-year-old girl named Miriam Mazur. He bequeaths Miriam’s diary to Gracie, leaving instructions for a friend from the Old Country to translate it. Gracie is appalled, this is a really weird thing for a kid her age to be doing. She would rather pursue a hot Senior, named Luke, who seduces her with the power of heavy metal and a forceful kiss.

Reluctantly, Gracie does go to hear the translation of the diary. Through Miriam’s eyes, she watches as the Nazis change everything: Yaacov’s father is hung before his eyes, and the families are forced to move into the Warsaw ghetto. She watches Miriam cling to the rare goodness of a Polish boy named Micah, who, despite everything, insists on helping the Mazurs.

Then, suddenly, evil reveals itself in Gracie’s world. Luke shows up at Friendly’s, wearing a swastika earring. When Gracie confronts him, he shrugs her off: “It’s only an earring,” he says. Her friends freeze her out. Only Steven Polinsky, a serious boy she had tried to ignore after meeting him at her grandfather’s funeral, stays with her.

Gracie suffers. Her friends don’t take her calls, and her father accuses her of not caring about their past. Meanwhile, the quiet pull of the world described in Miriam’s diary remains steadfast, haunting Gracie in vivid ways: She even sees Miriam in the mirror. Frightened, Gracie tries to banish the diary from her life, but she finds herself listening again and even bringing Steven to hear how Micah gave his life in helping the Mazurs. When the diary closes, Gracie can’t rest until she seeks out a survivor who knew Miriam. As she makes the journey to meet the survivor, she experiences fragments of Miriam’s life as if it were her own. And when she goes home to her Bat Mitzvah, she celebrates Miriam’s life, recognizing that perhaps they shared an ever-lasting spark that no evil could extinguish.


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