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Stop What You’re Doing And Read This Book
I know, I know. You’re a mom and the last thing you have time for is reading. Between work and carpool and packing lunches and laundry and sports practice, there is just no time for the luxury of reading a book. I am going to challenge you, though, to give this particular book a try, though, because it was THAT good.
At the recommendation of a friend, I recently picked up We Were the Lucky Ones. Like most of you, I am juggling a million things in any given week, but ironically I find that getting lost in an amazing book makes me more productive. As a huge fan of both Lilac Girlsand The Nightingale, I was excited to start We Were the Lucky Ones, another historical fiction novel taking place during World War II.
I started the book on a Friday night during the Olympics (what else is there to do when Dateline’s not on?!) and was immediately and instantly hooked. Each chapter is focused on a different main character, either the parents or one of their five children, but the storytelling flows seamlessly between cities and circumstances and generations. The book follows the Kurc family from the start of World War II, at which point they are a close knit and prosperous Jewish family living in Poland, through the war’s darkest years and all the way to its bitter end. Yes, this is an emotional novel and yes, it is hard to read at times, but these stories need to be told, heard and told again.
What’s different about We Were the Lucky Ones is that this is a carefully researched story by none other than one of the family’s descendants (the actual grand-daughter of one of the main characters). The author, Georgia Hunter, who is a also mom herself (go moms!), set out to learn all that she could about her family’s World War II journey, experience and history. She traveled around the world to many of the locations mentioned in the book, recorded thousands of hours of oral interviews, poured over countless articles and history books … and then masterfully turned her own family’s story into one of the most powerful books I’ve encountered.
As a mom living in 2018, it is almost impossible to imagine the heartache and challenges that this family experienced. It makes me wonder about my own grandparents (my maternal grandparents are pictured at left) who quite literally grew up, got married and started families amidst the backdrop of World War II. My own grandfather, like many of yours, also served in the war. I get twitchy when my husband doesn’t text back within an hour, and yet many couples during this time period spent literal years without any knowledge of whether their spouse was even alive. There was no texting or e-mailing in the 1940s; at times during the war it was impossible to even receive snail mail for years (yes, years) on end. I get antsy when things take too long, and I worry about not being able to protect my kids, all of which I think is “normal.” That said, the pages of this book will make you feel the intense fear and anguish and heartbreak of what mothers of all ages endured day in and day outduring World War II. The emotions of this book are raw and real, but to realize that this is not fiction but one family’s actual journey is gut-wrenching, eye-opening and inspiring. I imagine some of you think “wow, that sounds depressing.” And I guess it is. But these were also real humans that are but 2 generations removed from us, and much of our own history is forever intertwined with theirs.
Start to finish, I could not put this book down. I got lost in the underground basements of Poland, side alleys of Germany, war prisons and concentration camps. If you think that history is boring or don’t prefer novels that read like textbooks, I urge you to give We Were the Lucky Ones a try. Not only do I think it is incredibly important to remember these stories, but it’s a book that truly reminded me of what’s worth worrying about and gave me fresh perspective.
Addendum :: So When Will I Read?
If you’re thinking “wow, that book sounds great but yeah, I have no time for that and likely never will,” here is how I (and other bookworms with little ones) make time for reading ::
- I choose to read instead of doing something else
- I read in the carpool line while waiting for kids (some moms love audiobooks for this reason, too)
- I keep a book in the car / in my purse for unexpected waiting time
- I read in waiting rooms before various doctor appointments
- I read in the bath as a way to unwind (instead of scrolling social media)
- I read at night right before bed (and yes, of course I fall asleep but it actually leads to better rest for me than a racing mind)
- I routinely use the library so there is ZERO GUILT if a book doesn’t get read at all
- Many friends tell me that they listen to audiobooks during their work commutes