We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter – 416 pages
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. As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
My Review: 4.5 stars
We Were The Lucky Ones is a courageous story about family and the miraculous journey they endured in the name of survival. I’ve read too many books to count about WW2 and/or the Holocaust from every POV possible: the survivor, the prisoner, the guard, the spy, the children, the emancipators, the compassionate, those that are hidden and those that keep people hidden. This one is different however; it’s about an entire family, from start to finish.
Spanning from 1939 to 1947, this book takes on three generations of a single family and their fight for survival before, during and after the war. The family became completely dispersed across the globe in hopes of staying alive. Here are a few of the places that the war took this family: Poland, Russia, Siberia, North Africa, Brazil, Paris and Italy. The author gives impeccable historical information regarding the war at the beginning of each chapter. These are great reference points as to what is happening around the world.
This book is paced well and the feeling of hope is never lost even during the most arduous times. This definitely helps in keeping the book’s topic from being too heavy. This family’s bravery is palpable as they push forward not only for themselves, but also for the infinite possibility that they’ll be reunited with their family. Their collective dream to be with one another again is the vision that propels them forward.
Interestingly, this book is written about the author’s own family. She gives a nice summary at the end of the book to share what’s happening to them now and how she acquired the information to write the novel. I’m not sure if the eBooks will have the family tree in it, but I will tell you that having that tree in the hard cover edition was immeasurably helpful. There are a lot of characters to contend with, so I hope all formats will contain it.
Quotes I liked:
Bella can’t bring herself to talk about these things, though. Her grief is larger than words.”
-“She hugs her purse to her side, feeling the lump of the cutlery against her ribs. The last time she’d used these knives and forks was around her parents’ dining table. She’d have laughed then if someone had told her that someday they might be worth her husband’s life.”
-“What matters, she tells herself, is that even on the hardest days, when the grief is so heavy she can barely breathe, she must carry on. She must get up, get dressed, and go to work. She will take each day as it comes. She will keep moving.”