Title: We Were the Lucky Ones
Author: Georgia Hunter
Publisher: Penguin Books
Copyright Date: 2017
*Setting for book challenge: Eastern Europe (Poland)
World War II begins with the German invasion of Poland.
The Kurcs were a wealthy, Jewish family rooted in Radom, Poland, when the news breaks about the war. One-by-one the war takes members of their family and all the Kurcs can do is hope for the best–that one day the war will end and they will be reunited as a family.
Ganek and his wife end up in Siberia in a concentration camp.
Mila’s husband is taken without a “good-bye” and she is left to raise their baby on her own in the ghetto.
Addy tries to make it home from France, but is prevented from entering his homeland.
Jakob must protect the woman he loves from meeting the same fate as her family.
Halina uses her wit and strong personality to survive under the new regime.
Based on true events in the author’s family history this novel is one of resilience and impossibility. So often, we read stories about the casualties of war, but We Were the Lucky Ones gives away in its title that this family may have been broken for a time, but hope is restored in many ways.
As I read about events that this family endured I was shocked. I am a history teacher and I consider myself fairly educated on the war era, but I really had no idea what it was like to actually be under the persecution of the Nazis. I felt anger as I learned about the way the Kurcs were disregarded and forced in to ghettos. I was anxious as I read about Jews being coerced to dig their own graves knowing that when their shovel emptied the last of the mound their final breath was soon to follow. And don’t even get me started on the cruel acts against children.
But as heartbreaking as these events were I do believe it is necessary to educate ourselves on these things.
Hitler didn’t start with death camps.
It was a long process that began by planting seeds of hate and isolating groups of people.
Thank God that the Kurc family was one of the lucky families. That every member was spared from the fate that over 6 million others endured is a miracle.
I listened to a podcast while reading this book where the author admits that she took some creative license when it came to the thoughts, feelings, and words of her ancestors. But it is evident that an immense amount of research went into this story. It teeters on the verge of non-fiction, but she states in the podcast she didn’t feel comfortable calling it anything other than a novel because of the way she had to fill the gaps with what cannot be found in the act of research.
This was an emotional read, but so worth it. We all need to be reminded of the past and oftentimes that makes us uncomfortable.
Over the course of 2019 my goal is to Read the World. Check it out!
The Ameri Brit Mom