We Were the Lucky Ones

We Were the Lucky Ones

Book - 2017
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""Reading Georgia Hunter's We Were the Lucky Ones is like being swung heart first into history. A brave and mesmerizing debut, and a truly tremendous accomplishment."--Paula McLain, New York Timesbestselling author of The Paris Wife. An extraordinary, propulsive novel based on the true story of a family of Polish Jews who scatter at the start of the Second World War, determined to survive, and to reunite. It is the spring of 1939, and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows ever closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships facing Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurc family will be flung to the far corners of the earth, each desperately trying to chart his or her own path toward safety. As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death by working endless hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an extraordinary will to survive and by the fear that they may never see each other again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere. In a novel of breathtaking sweep and scope that spans five continents and six years and transports readers from the jazz clubs of Paris to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to Krakow's most brutal prison and the farthest reaches of the Siberian gulag, We Were the Lucky Ones is a tribute to the capacity of the human spirit to endure in the face of the twentieth century's darkest moment"--
Publisher: New York, New York : Viking, ©2017.
ISBN: 9780399563089
0399563083
Characteristics: 403 pages :,genealogical table, portrait ;,24 cm.

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brangwinn
Sep 30, 2018

As I read this I kept saying this is clearly fiction. How could this Polish Jewish family survive all the harrowing nightmares World War II put in their way. And then I get to the afterword and find out the story is true, that it is based on the author’s family.

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MillieBT
Sep 23, 2018

A family and their place in WW11.....loved her character development and with each chapter
you peel away another layer.....excellently written...story is heartwarming in its bravery and
heartbreaking in its reality

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Squid_1
Jun 10, 2018

Too methodical. It took away a connection with the characters.

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brodeur
Apr 03, 2018

The best book we’ve read in years. Sad and triumphant, these are stories of a history which must always be remembered.

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cnadalin
Sep 13, 2017

Ann Galli recommendation

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DorisWaggoner
Sep 05, 2017

After having just finished a family saga where I couldn't keep people straight, I copied the family chart onto my bookmark. That and the chapter headings with dates and places helped to keep track of what was going on with everybody over the near decade covered. Each person is clearly delineated, and each one changes over the course of the book. Given the actual statistics of how few Jews from Radom survived the war, this might seem a Pollyanna tale in the end, in spite of the suffering in the middle. Except that it was based on Hunter's years of research into her own family, and acknowledged those who didn't make it through. Each reader will have their favorite characters; by the end, mine were Felicia and Addy. When chapters end with someone being dragged off by the SS, shots ringing out, or someone acknowledging a pregnancy at the most inopportune time, the author is in control of her pacing. I hope Hunter finds another subject that engages her as much as this one clearly did.

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cubsfan723
Aug 24, 2017

This was a recommendation from a librarian who volunteers at Illinois' Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. I took a long afternoon for me and read it start to finish and loved it. I suggest you also read it in quick fashion, start to finish, because there are numerous characters and locales. It's incredibly engaging and even more amazing is that this is based on the author's family, so be sure to read ALL of the post-ending book pages. Unbelievable!

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lpreston214
Jul 10, 2017

An incredible story of bravery and survival of a Jewish family during WWII. Sol and Nechuma Kurc, living in Poland in a beautiful huge apartment with their grown children, running successful businesses begin to suffer the repression we've read about in so many holocaust stories. They lose their home and businesses and are sent to the ghetto. However, this story diverges from the norm. Their children and their partners flee and end up all over the world. From Israel to Siberia to Italy and Brazil they each have their own unique stories of survival. Not hearing from each other, in some cases, for 7+ years they reconnect after the war through the Red Cross. The book bounces from one couple or family or individual to another with small historical context notes interspersed. Amazingly, all the main characters survive and all the more amazing, the story is based on meticulous research the author did on her own family. One of the best I've read this year.

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mliz84321
Apr 01, 2017

Highly recommend this book. I loved it from beginning to end. It is a remarkable story about survival and absolutely heartbreaking. The things i loved most was the fact that this book was based on true events and the experiences of the family members was so diverse. I found myself referring back to the family chart often especially in the beginning to keep everyone straight and was thankful this was made available. I was so sad when this book was over as I just didn't want it to end. 5 stars all around

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melmccurdy
Mar 27, 2017

After the invasion of Poland by the Germans at the onset of WWII, the Kurc family was forcibly scattered, abused, detained and imprisoned across Europe and Asia because they were Jewish. For the entirety of the war, most family members don't know the others whereabouts or whether they are dead or alive.

This was an epic family drama. Author Georgia Hunter vividly tells her family's history during the war. However, the written narrative didn't always excel at telling what was truly a remarkable story. The timeline was often confusing, as well as keeping track of each individual family member and where they were at any given point in time. One of my biggest literary peeves was the use of rhetorical questions, "Were they alive?" "Where are they?" "Would I ever see them again?" were repeated over and over again...

Initially I was only going to give this book 3 star rating -- but the ending was such that I gave it the benefit of the doubt based on the truly miraculous nature of the author's ancestry

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ArapahoeMaryA Jun 26, 2018

...her world was torn to shreds. She’d watched from then on as every basic truth of the life she once knew—her home, her family, her safety—was thrown to the wind. Now, those fragments of her past have begun to drift back down to earth, and for the first time in over half a decade she has allowed herself to believe that, with time and patience, she might just be able to stitch together a semblance of what was. It will never be the same—she’s wise enough to understand that. But they are here, and for the most part, together, which has begun to feel like something of a miracle.

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