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On August 18, 2014 | 2 Comments | books, genealogy | Tags: , , , , ,

It’s hard to believe that nine months have passed since my last blog post. I intended to take a short break, and it grew. I have kept in touch with some of you in the meantime on Facebook and blogs, but every now and then the still, small voice inside says, “When do we get to blog again?”

This morning, I knew: today is the day. I knew it as soon as I closed the last page of The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century by David Laskin.

Laskin’s book came to me as part of a series of curious events, which I’ll write more about in a separate post. Let’s just say that adventure is afoot, and life has led me yet again down an extraordinary path. But today, I want to tell you about Laskin’s book, because it is incredible, and I want to sing its praises wherever I can.

Like me, Laskin’s quest to learn his family history started with bits and pieces of information that grew into a larger story. He knew, for example, that his great-aunt, Ida Rosenthal, founded the Maidenform Bra Company, an incredible achievement for an immigrant woman. As he went deeper, however, he learned of three separate family stories: the American immigrants, early Jewish settlers in pre-Israel Palestine, and, sadly, those relatives who stayed in Europe and endured Nazi atrocities.

Having seen the breathtaking beauty of Rosh Ha Nikra, where his relatives first entered Israel, I could almost picture their journey, though I could not imagine their hardships. Through Laskin’s book, I also gained greater understanding of the lives of Polish Jewry at the time my husband’s grandmother left for America…and a more personal sense of the Holocaust.

Prior to reading The Family, I had been reading a novel that just didn’t work for me, to the extent that I didn’t finish it. As a writer who wants to respect other writers, I usually muscle through and hope things will get better, but I finally had to give up. A few paragraphs into The Family, though, and my faith was restored. It is as exquisite, exciting, and gut-wrenching as any novel I have read, and I invite you to add it to your stack.

If anyone is still out there after my long absence, I would love to hear what you’re reading! As for me, I’ll try to not stay away so long.

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