“We Were the Lucky Ones” by Georgia Hunter

Publisher:   Penguin Group Viking

Pub. Date:  Feb. 14, 2017 we-were-the-lucky-ones

The author, Georgia Hunter, conducted extensive research after learning (at age fifteen) that her grandfather (the character Addy Kurc in the book) survived the Holocaust.   Her historical novel tracks the experiences of her real-life Polish family members during WWII.  Her grandparents and their five adult children were scattered among several continents to survive.  Her grandparents, their two daughters, and two sons went into the ghettos.  Two sisters escaped the labor camps.  The eldest brother ended up in Siberia, the youngest brother ran away from the ghetto and went into hiding, and the middle brother made his way into Brazil from Paris, where he had been living before the war.  The entire family survived, which I thought was unbelievable until I read Hunter’s endnotes.

The book begins in the spring of 1939.  The Kurc family tried to go about their lives as usual, although the war was growing nearer, and the threats against Jews grew more intense by the day in their hometown of Radom, Poland.  The reader learns of the early days of the invasion of Poland right up until the end of the war.  Each family member had a different story with a different aspect to tell.  I especially liked that chapters that began with dates of what was happening (as if reading a newspaper of the times), showing us that the author’s research was precise.  Hunter has shared a rich and vivid history of her family through years of research.  She reports that out of 30,000 Jews in her grandparents hometown of Radom, fewer then 300 survived.  Mind boggling.  I found this to be a sweeping novel of a family’s remarkable determination, smarts, and love for one another that pushed them to stay alive, even in the most brutal of concentrations camps.  I don’t think I learned anything new about the horrors of the Holocaust, but Hunter gave the survivors a face.  At times I felt the writing was too sentimental for none of the family members had a dis-likable quality.  Yet still, this was an extraordinary moving tale that should never be forgotten.  And, hopefully never will be during present times as well as the future.

Find all my reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4793025-martie-nees-record?shelf=read

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