Sunday, January 24, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 3 - Such Good Girls: The Journey of the Holocaust's Hidden Child Survivors

"So, you were in Poland during the war?" asked author R.D. Rosen, making conversation with a likable woman in her seventies during a Passover seder. With her affirmative answer, he then asked a question that set him on a journey: "What were you doing?" Her quiet reply: "Hiding." With that, the author considered his "suburban bubble" to have been popped. 

Mr. Rosen is an excellent storyteller. In Such Good Girls: The Journey of the Holocaust's Hidden Child Survivors, he traces the history of three Jewish girls, each unable to escape their home country  (Poland, The Netherlands, France) during World War II. However, unlike many stories we have heard, the girls were able to escape the concentration camps and go on to live to have careers and families of their own. The details of the way in which the children hid, who hid them and some of the cruelties they endured are in the book, but equally compelling is his exploration of the effect the trauma had on the development of the hidden children as people. He explores what it means to live a lie - to use a new name, practice a new religion and be a part of a family that is not your own. Not only did the hidden children live a lie, they did it so well, they often did not remember what the truth really was. Through various worldwide gatherings of hidden children, several commonalities among them, all now adults, have become apparent. Common experiences include problems with memory, particularly as it relates to family and faith, having to grapple with the question of whether or not to identify as a Christian or a Jew, and whether or not, and when, to tell their stories. By exploring these commonalities, Mr. Rosen skillfully leads the reader through a minefield of tragedy and endurance. 

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