An invigorating memoir about coming of age as the daughter of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants and Holocaust survivors.
Taitz’s (In the King's Arms, 2011, etc.) childhood was punctuated by stories of her parents’ and grandmother’s loss as well as their faith during their time in the ghetto and Dachau. Here, the author explores her early awareness of standing out as a child; the transition from desiring assimilation to appreciating her Yiddish heritage; personal relationships; a vow to her father; travel to Israel; the differences between life on the West and East coasts; the search for meaningful work after she realized a Yale law degree did not align with her artistic impulses; study at Oxford; marriage, divorce and remarriage; and the deaths of her parents, Simon and Gita. Motifs of time, filial love, the preservation of memories and the biblical story of Queen Esther weave throughout these chapters, which also stand alone as essays that capture the spirit of the postwar decades. Taitz evokes popular culture, from the silver screen to commercial jingles, and intersperses lighter moments with deeper considerations of suffering. Though the author focuses mostly on her experiences, it is Simon and Gita’s perseverance that truly shines—the former a respected watchmaker who began life anew more than once, the latter a concert-level pianist whose dreams were thwarted by war and who rescued her own mother from the Nazis' infamous selections. Taitz portrays her parents with tenderness while acknowledging their imperfections.
An affecting, brisk read, especially noteworthy for its essential optimism and accomplished turns of phrase.