Tag: holocaust

Book Review: We Were the Lucky Ones (Georgia Hunter).

We Were the Lucky Ones

— Georgia Hunter

The title of the book is what caught my eye and I have been meaning to read this book for months now. It is a fictionalized account of a true story about the author’s family which I found out after I was finished reading it. We Were the Lucky Ones is a book set during World War II about the Kurc family, who are well assimilated Polish Jews and their survival during the holocaust.

The story begins in the spring of 1939 in Poland and France when it seems imminent that something that has been looming for the past few years is finally here. The whole family gets a point of view, as they narrate the story through their perspectives and respective circumstances. The parents are Nechuma and Sol; their daughters Halina and Mila and three sons Genek, Jakob and Addy, and not including the spouses and extended family. Except for Addy who is in France, all the others are living in Radam, Poland at the beginning of the war.


As I mentioned before, the narrative shift from one family member to another which takes the reader to different places and times and even countries. In the beginning, it was a little difficult to keep track of the characters as each chapter has a new narrator but as the story progresses it makes sense why the author decided to do this. There is a uniqueness to each character that clearly comes through the writing and you can feel their pain and helplessness throughout. The story goes from Poland to France to Siberia even to the Middle East and South America.


The descriptions of their situations are stated more as facts that pack a punch for a reader and the characters are just reacting to their circumstances. Addy, who hasn’t seen his family since before the war constantly thinks about them, not knowing if they are alive or not and whether he will ever get to see them again. I liked the spirit and realistic emotional impact of each character as they do what they have to in order to survive and it is heartbreaking to read about their struggles.

The part of the story which takes place in the ghetto is extremely difficult to read; a lot of the story is difficult to read but that part where Mila decides to leave the ghetto with her daughter and a few others for work and what follows that decision was completely unexpected and a little uncomfortable to read. The family keeps thinking about the happier times of their home in Radom and of each other fondly which gives them a little hope in such times and its fascinating to me that no matter how bad the situation, the perseverance to survive is there


I didn’t know it was based on a true story till I got to the very end of the story where the author has written a detailed epilogue of sorts of her family and their survival and the impact it had on them. They lost a lot of their extended family during the war and everything else familiar to them but they survived. By the time I finished reading the story, the title of the novel made complete sense. It is a heartbreaking and emotional ride and even more so since it is based on a true story. I finished this book over the weekend; it is emotionally draining but I liked the book

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne).

The boy in the striped pyjamas

By John Boyne

I have been on a historical novel reading spree for a while now. This book has been on my radar because of its World War II setting. I wanted to read this book for so long, years actually. I finally read it and I am still reeling from it a little bit.

The boy in striped pyjamas is a Holocaust novel set during World War II. The two main characters of the story are Bruno and Shmuel who share the same birthday are 9 years old. The story is narrated from Bruno’s point of view. Bruno’s family is well off, his father is in the army in Nazi Germany and they live in Berlin. Bruno’s father is promoted to Commandant and they have to move from Berlin to concentration camp Bruno calls ‘Out-With’.


The narration of the story through Bruno is a great idea. He is 9-year-old and he doesn’t understand what is going around him. There is an innocence and purity in the narration because Bruno is an innocent child. He is distraught about leaving his life, friends and grandparents in Berlin and like any child would especially when he doesn’t understand the circumstances. He doesn’t like the new house, there are no kids around except his sister and he wonders about the camp he can see his from his window. His character is relatable as he is always seeking adventure and likes exploring. It is this curiosity that leads to Bruno meeting Shmuel.


Bruno and Shmuel become friends almost instantly. There is a sharp contrast in the life of Bruno and Shmuel and it is depicted in a heartbreaking way. Bruno is living in a big house with his family and has access to all necessities. While Shmuel lives in the concentration camp in terrible conditions. It was difficult for me to read the dialogues for Shmuel. This little boy has been through so much and seen things no 9-year-old should see. Bruno doesn’t understand Shmuel’s world but he feels bad for him. Their friendship is so innocent, Bruno sneaks food out of his house because he realizes Shmuel is very thin and sickly.


The end of the book was devastating, it was hard to control the tears after that ending. I know the book has some inaccuracies especially with the way the boys meet but it doesn’t take anything away from the story as a whole. It is a very good book and it is different in a way as the protagonists’ characters are kids, their point of view is completely different. The horrors of the Holocaust during World War II are depicted in a sensitive manner in this book and gives a sense of that horrible time in history. The pace of the plot is fairly quick and doesn’t drag on at any point.


Even though the book is targeted for younger audiences, it is recommended for readers of all ages. I might not read the book again because I don’t think I’ll be able to but it is a must read. Now that I have read the book, I am going to see the movie based on it.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.