a bookclique pick by Megan Brevard
The haunting voices of memory, survival and familial love are the core themes of writer Georgia Hunter’s phenomenal WWII novel, We Were the Lucky Ones. I have a passion for WWII fictional stories – some of my favorites include All the Light You Cannot See, Atonement, Charlotte Gray, Corelli’s Mandolin, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Sarah’s Key, The Invisible Bridge and Skeletons at the Feast. We Were the Lucky Ones possesses the dual intrigue of being inspired by the true story of Hunter’s grandfather and tautly written.
Hunter did not learn her grandfather’s story until after his death, but she researched his journey from war-torn Radom, Poland to Brazil to write this powerful novel. Based on interviews with her family members, We Were the Lucky Ones describes the harrowing experiences of one Jewish family in Poland beginning in 1939, with the invasion of the country, and spanning the globe to work camps in Siberia, fighting in the resistance, the flight to Brazil for asylum, and many other war-time experiences.
From multiple perspectives, Hunter crafts a brilliant, eye-witness account of the Holocaust in Poland and her family’s incredible survival stories. Each chapter features one of the family members’ narrative – to keep track, I wrote down all of the siblings’ names at the beginning so I could differentiate the voices. Even if I hadn’t, though, the compelling stories are easy to keep separate due to their harrowing details and the different survival stories in different locations from Europe to the Middle East.
The themes of We Were the Lucky Ones cause the reader to reflect on the importance of family, courage and love. In the “Author’s Note,” Hunter gives an account of her relatives and their actual experiences as they relate to the fictional characters based on them. Of the 30,000 Jews from Radom, Poland only about 300 would survive the war. As the author writes, “It’s a miracle in many ways…we were the lucky ones.”
Fore more information about We Were the Lucky Ones, see Hunter’s blog.