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THE PAGES IN BETWEEN

A HOLOCAUST LEGACY OF TWO FAMILIES, ONE HOME

Well-wrought, honest and even more ambiguous than most family histories.

Regret is the theme of this candid, complicated memoir, which chronicles New York Daily News reporter Einhorn’s visit to the Polish family that sheltered her Jewish mother during World War II.

The author went to the town of Bedzin in 2001 to investigate her mother Irena’s story of being hidden by gentiles after her parents were rounded up by the Nazis and put on a train headed for an unknown destination. As the legend went, Irena’s father, Beresh, tried to persuade his wife to jump from the train with him, but she refused. He jumped anyway and headed back to Bedzin, where he collected his baby daughter from the elderly aunt caring for her and handed over Irena to a Polish woman he knew named Honorata Skowronska. Pleading with her to keep the child safe until he could return, Beresh gave Honorata “his money, his jewelry, the deed to his factory and apartment” before being arrested and deported once again. After the war, he returned from Auschwitz, retrieved his child and emigrated to Detroit. Whether or not he ever promised Honorata that her family could have his home in Bedzin is a murky question that drives much of the memoir. Irena never dwelled on memories of Poland, but the author hoped that her trip there would help repair a fraught relationship with her difficult, demanding mother. However, shortly after Einhorn first contacted Honorata’s son Wieslaw, who remembered Irena as his “sister,” her mother died of cancer, underscoring yet again the loss of connection with the past. Running parallel with her family saga is the author’s attempt to dispel the instinctual, stereotypical antagonism she felt for the Polish generation that betrayed the Jews, while marveling at the resurgence of interest in Jewish culture she found in young Poles she met. Einhorn delicately and movingly interweaves the personal and the epic.

Well-wrought, honest and even more ambiguous than most family histories.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5830-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2008

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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