Almost a year ago, my dear friend Linda published a beautiful book. In the description of Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors, and Skokie, it says,
"Written by a child of two Holocaust Survivors, Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie, tells the story of growing up with parents who have survived the unsurvivable, who land in an idyllic northern suburb of Chicago, Skokie, where they're suddenly free to live their lives, yet find their past has arrived with them. In a book that's both funny and somber, and a story universal in its scope, Linda Pressman creates an unforgettable world of adolescent angst and traumatized parents amid the suburban world of the 60s and 70s, ultimately finding that her parents' stories are her own." (Emphasis my own.)
While reading this book, I found that her parents' stories, and her stories, could also be my stories.
For example, she talks of her grandma who had multiple children born without rectums and passing away. I read this with tears pouring down my face as I thought of my own children who didn't survive the embryonic stage.
Linda, the 6th of 7 sisters, also talks of she and her sisters trying to find their place in their family. Some have an easier time of it and others may never find it. As the second of ten, I understand the difficulties of figuring out who you are and where you belong in your family. Yet, like Linda, I have deep love and respect for all my siblings.
Expertly and artistically tying in her parents' and grandparents' Holocaust stories to her own growing up experiences, Linda made me feel like I was in her house as her mother chastised them for complaining about food and clothes by comparing her meager existence in the forest to their current living situations. I was a guest at the many family functions, listening with growing boredom to my the stories of my grandparents and thinking that every family had Holocaust stories. And I was with her as they moved away from the Skokie home.
Through it all, many of her family left their religion. Linda, on the other hand, found strength and courage in her Jewish faith and continues to talk about her rich heritage and traditions on her blog, Barmitzvahzilla. She gives me hope as I figure out my own spiritual journey while I consider how my grandparents' and parents' stories impacted how I live.
Linda's book is available at bookstores - on-line and otherwise - and I promise it will be an excellent addition to your library.
As a special treat, I am giving away a free copy. Just leave a comment telling me how your parents and/or grandparents shaped your upbringing and I will randomly select the winner. If you would like additional entries, "like" Linda's page and my blog's page on Facebook. Entries will close on Mar. 9 at 12 pm. Until then, happy reading!
*I was given a free copy of this book but did the review because I loved it so very much. I know you will too.