Monday, March 13, 2017

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

Star Rating : 5 out of 5

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Content Rating : MILD

Back Cover :
"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.

A novel of breathtaking sweep and scope that spans five continents and six years and transports readers from the jazz clubs of Paris to Krak√≥w’s most brutal prison to the ports of Northern Africa and the farthest reaches of the Siberian gulag, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can find a way to survive, and even triumph.”

My Thoughts :
This story is an intimate and sweeping narrative that follows one family through the Holocaust and around the world. An extraordinary story based on a true family story; it's a must read!

I went in to this story with a little trepidation. How could Jews in Poland during WWII be lucky and the story not be cheesy. Never fear, I have pre-read this one for you. You will not end up with tears running down your face and you will not come out rolling your eyes at the ending. It will give you a new meaning for luck; and, the best part is it’s based on a real life family.

I gave it a MILD rating. I was in between this being a Mild read or a Moderate read. The Holocaust is a rather hard subject matter; but, the story was told in a gentle way. You never felt the full force of the horrors. Most of the violence was off screen so to say. There are few uses of mild language, a few mild sexual references.

What I liked :
  • Characters – Now there are a lot of them! 12 main characters to keep straight. Which was a little hard. The beginning of the chapter has the character’s name that it will be focusing on; but, I still kept mixing up Bella and Herta for some reason. However, you really feel like you get to know each. Their strengths are show cased in this novel.
  • The Story – Hunter takes us along on this epic survival story. While it is based on the author's family, it doesn't feel like a memoir; instead, it is a six-year family sag, where you get to know the family intimately.  
  • The Research – Hunter really dug in and did her research. There were notes at the beginning of the chapters that gave you the date and location along with what was happening on the day historically. This helped you keep the whole picture in mind. Also, don’t miss the author’s note at the end. You’ll be sorry if you do.
What I didn’t like :

  • I can't find much fault with this book. However, the only thing I wish were different would probably be the author's note. Not what it said; but, when it said it. I understand Hunter not diving in and giving us the full story of the family up front, as it would take away from the book. I would, however, have liked a little more than "based on a true story" at the beginning. I fell like if she had let us in on how strongly it was based on her family, it would have allowed for an even better reading of their story.
What others are saying :

“Reading Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones is like being swung heart first into history. . . . A brave and mesmerizing debut, and a truly tremendous accomplishment.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author 

“Love in the face of global adversity? It couldn't be more timely.” —Glamour, “Best Books to Read in 2017

“Turning history into fiction can be tricky, especially when using real names and details. Hunter finesses the challenge. Her novel brings the Kurcs to life in heart-pounding detail, from passionate young love and beloved traditions to narrow escapes, heartbreaking choices, starvation, imprisonment and torture. We come to care deeply about the fate of each of these resourceful, determined characters.” —The Jewish Voice


Reviewed by Shayna Hinshaw

I received a digital copy of this book for free from the First to Read in exchange for my honest review. All opinions in this review are my own.

Pick it up at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

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