Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Choices - J.E. Laufer

Summary: We are all familiar with the horrifying atrocities of the Holocaust, but lesser known is the second harrowing ordeal many Jewish families faced after the Hungarian Revolution. The inconceivable reality of returning to life after concentration camps to build a family and find yourselves fleeing as refugees 10 years later is the true story of author J.E. Laufer’s parents. Herself only 2 years old at the time, Laufer has used family memories and the account of the remarkable 16-year-old Christian girl who aided her family’s escape to write this fictionalized account of the events following this period of turbulence. 

The pages of history books come to life for young adult readers with characters that leap off the page and events that can sometimes parallel all-too-closely the modern resurgence of a refugee crisis, anti-semitism and political unrest. Summary and image from I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Review:  Life after the camps wasn’t easy. While many Jews left Europe altogether, many tried to go home, to reclaim their happiness in a place that was familiar, to rebuild their lives. For many, that worked. But for the many Jews who found themselves behind the Iron Curtain, they found the same rabid anti-semitism and distrust too much to bear. Some of these brave individuals chose to emigrate to the West in the hope of finding a more tolerant life, but for many of those who chose to leave, the borders were closed. 

J.E. Laufer has captured the essence of her parents’ flight from Hungary to Austria in this delightful little novel. The writing and tact that are used in the retelling are perfectly suited for middle-grade readers or reluctant YA readers — I was able to finish it in an hour. Please don’t let the small size drive you away, the story is one that deserves to be read. The decision to leave, the nearly-insurmountable task of saying goodbye to loved ones without letting them know too much, the risk of trusting a stranger with such a life-or-death task, as a mother, I want my children to know and understand the sacrifice so many made for the chance to be free, and I love how gracefully this novel illustrates it.

It was nearly impossible to see the miracles this family experienced to allow them to get to the West, and then once in the West, allowed them to survive.This was one of those books that while I flew through it, it left an indelible impression on me. It’s sweet.

Rating: Four stars

For the Sensitive Reader: Squeaky clean, other than the mention of a boy who had been shot trying to escape.

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