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Author: Georgia Hunter
“It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.”
We Were The Lucky Ones was one of those books that I didn’t need to know the synopsis of to know I wanted to read it. I remember first seeing the above cover and thinking how heartbreaking but beautiful this cover was, and if the cover was that magnificent then I hoped the story would be just as powerful.
Ever since I started to really read, I’ve been fascinated with WWII– especially for what it was like in Europe at the time. As someone from the U.S. our history classes were based primarily on what happened to America not Europe during these wars. It wasn’t until I started reading historical fiction– from The Book Thief, to The Nightingale, or All the Light We Cannot See, that I really got an appreciation for what it was like in Europe during the time of WWII.
However, this is the first book that I’ve read that is specific to what occurred to Jewish families during the war. This is a story of a real family and their hardships during WWII in Poland, Germany, The Soviet Union and France. Each chapter is about a different family member, I have to admit this was cleverly thought out but sometimes became confusing because you would jump from one family member to another and I had trouble keeping track of each storyline. I found myself having to read back chapters to remember who these people were. However, this is the only downfall to this story, I loved that Hunter included history highlights before some chapters; for example, what happened on a certain day and year before letting us know where the family was and what was happening to them. It also helped me keep track of history at the same time as following the family through their survival.
I am in awe of the strength of these people and all like them. They took risks every day to stay alive. They were exiled and beaten, starving, prisoners, and fighting for their lives every day. On top of that, they had no idea where their family members were half of the time if not the whole time during the war. They had no way to contact them, when one disappeared, they assumed they had died but yet they found a way to keep living. This story is not just about how lucky they were but how survival was the only option even at their most difficult moments.
I found myself smiling with tears in my eyes when families met again after such a long time apart or frowning with tears in my eyes when a family member found out the horrible fate of a loved one. This book truly brought everything to light of what it was like not only in Poland at the time but what Jewish families had to go through during such a difficult history.
I gave this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads.
If you read this, don’t stop at the end, I recommend you read the story behind Hunter’s reasoning for writing this and what it meant to her and her family. She has definitely given me inspiration and motivation to find my ancestral history and appreciate what I have.