Thursday, January 29, 2009

2009 Book #4

Thanks to all of these snow days, I just finished my book last night! I read After Long Silence by Helen Fremont which is a memoir of her family. Helen & her sister, Lara, were raised as Catholics, but when she was an adult she learned that her parents were actually Jewish. They were Holocaust survivors who were still living the "lives" they had created during that terrible period. Helen & her sister eventually pieced together most of their parents' story through research & interviews that they had conducted with others.

This book was a fast read & not quite what I expected it to be. I thought that it was going to be more about her parents' 'story' than it actually was. This book was more about her, Helen's, life & how she and her sister and their family as a whole were affected by the lies that were told as they were growing up. Don't get me wrong, there were still many, many accounts of the Holocaust told in the story, but Helen definitely let you know that she wasn't ever sure that she was getting the "whole truth" from her mother, father & aunt. I have read several books about the Holocaust & am always blown away by the terrible things that occurred & how terrible human beings can be to one another based on a simple difference in beliefs. Although this book was not (in my opinion) one of the best ones I have read on this time period, it did leave me with a couple of new impressions. For instance, every book I have read, pretty well, stops somewhere between 1946-1950 so I liked that this book took place long after those years & gave me a glimpse of what it was like to grow up raised by Holocaust survivors. Honestly, I hadn't really thought about it before, but it probably would have been quite trying at times especially if you weren't really aware of what had happened to them! I also liked that they were raised as Catholics because she wrote about their mom's take on some of the things Catholics do (since she was only 'Catholic' as a way of protecting her children!) For instance, when Helen asked why they don't go to Communion like everyone else or if she had to participate in Confirmation, her mother always replied that they never did those things in Poland & that they were newfangled American additions to Catholicism. Because I myself am Catholic, I found those remarks quite hilarious, but totally understood why her mom told her those things.
Soo...if you're interested in this time period, you may find this book interesting, but I wouldn't recommend it as a 1st read if you are wanting to learn more about the Holocaust in general.

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