Jenna Bush Hager’s latest Today show book club pick is Lauren Grodstein’s We Must Not Think of Ourselves.
Grodstein’s novel, slated for publication on Tuesday by Algonquin, follows Adam Paskow, a Jewish man in 1940 Warsaw who is held captive by Nazi occupiers and agrees to join a covert group of archivists who are working to record the stories of those imprisoned in the ghetto. In a starred review, a critic for Kirkus praised the book as a “delicate, warm account of a brutal, cold time, grounded in humanity, small details, and unwavering clarity.”
Hager announced her selection of the book on the morning show, saying, “This is a poignant, beautiful novel.…It is a book that proves that love remains even in the darkest corners. I hope y’all will read it with me; it is so beautiful. I think it is more timely than ever.”
Grodstein told Today.com that the novel originated from a trip she took with her family to her ancestral homeland of Poland. She said she resisted writing about the Holocaust at first, but changed her mind during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said she considered several questions while writing the novel.
“What does it mean to be brave?” she said. “Is Adam brave? Or is he just an ordinary guy doing the best he can? Does war take away questions of right and wrong? Do you have any excuse to do what it takes to survive in war? Or do you still have to adhere to basic decency that you would have adhered to outside of war? Those are the questions I thought about a lot.”
Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.