Erin Einhorn’s mother Irena was born in Poland in 1942, and hidden by a Catholic family during the Holocaust. Irena’s mother died in Auschwitz, but her father survived, reunited with his daughter, remarried, and moved to America. Meanwhile, the family’s property near Krakow was left for the rescuing Polish family to live in, manage, and rent–but the details weren’t clear to either party.
Years later, the author (a newspaper reporter) returns to Poland, hoping to learn more about the place where her family lived, and to thank those who rescued her mother. But instead of the happy reunion she envisions, what results is a lengthy, complicated dispute over the property. And she realizes that “[s]ixty years later, the virtues of right and wrong were not as clear as they had been, and gestures in one generation were not necessarily destined to have an effect on the next.”
Part family memoir, part Holocaust history, part genealogy, part examination of current Polish fascination with a romanticized Jewish culture; altogether this is a fascinating book.
RATING: **** Very, very good
Reviewed by: stc
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