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Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie [Kindle Edition]

Linda Pressman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


"Humor and tragedy blend seamlessly in this memoir of childhood upbringing and family trauma...A memoir whose heart pays considerable homage to its subjects." - Kirkus Reviews

"...It's a book about Holocaust survivors, yes, but it's also a coming-of-age story, a personal recounting of what it's like to live in a large family and the dynamics of the relationships within it."
Mike Isaacs, the Skokie Review, a Chicago Sun-Times Publication

"...Pressman is a talented writer and this book is a testament to her parents' truly indomitable will." -Publishers Weekly

"A memoir that is truly memorable." - Writer's Digest

"Looking Up is a superbly written autobiography that truly deserves being awarded the 20th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Grand Prize Book Award, as well as rave reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Looking Up is highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary American Biography collections." - The Midwest Book Review

From the Back Cover

"Linda Pressman paints a vivid portrait of her Holocaust survivor parents' assimilation into American culture, while raising their seven daughters in Skokie, Illinois. Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie is horrifying, tender and irreverent. A skillful and engaging writer, Pressman allows the richness of her European ancestry to shine in spite of bearing the weight of her parents' trauma. This book about a family of nine figuring out life's complexities is like no other memoir I've read on the Holocaust." Sandra Hurtes, Author of On My Way To Someplace Else and RESCUE: A Memoir.

"Linda Pressman gives us a glimpse into a world that no longer exists as a child of survivors who attempts to navigate both the old and new world. With grace and honesty, she taps into the hearts of her family and into her own heart, and gives us stories that will pierce the heart of the reader." Janet R. Kirchheimer, Teaching Fellow at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and the author of How To Spot One Of Us.

Product Details

  • File Size: 481 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2 edition (May 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0050JBVG8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,249 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read May 3, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a picky reader. There are many books I pick up and can't finish because the promise of the early pages doesn't continue into the rest of the book. That wasn't the case with the book Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie, written by Linda Pressman.

For two days straight I read this book, both laughing and crying. Now I'm reading it again. I'm not Jewish and I'm not from the Chicago area, but this author wrote my life. In it she paints a compelling portrait of the world of her childhood, filled with Holocaust Survivor relatives, American neighbors, six sisters, and parents who are always on the run, even when they are sitting still. Read it now. Seriously.

My only concern: when can I buy book two?
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Congratulations Linda and thanks for sharing the story of your family. I was engaged throughout the book and could not wait to turn the pages.

For anyone who grew up in Skokie it is a must read. As one of five I could relate too many of the stories you shared about growing up with six sisters. My grandfather came from Lithuania and I loved hearing his terms of endearment echoed throughout your family stories.

Well Done!!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Warm, Captivating Must-Read Book! May 20, 2011
By Karyn J
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is so well-written, with so much love, warmth, humor and the ability to draw you in with every sentence. The writer is a truly awesome talent who brings the people and situations to life with such eloquence, you can't put it down. I an a voracious reader and it has been a long time since I was so captivated by a book. Every page brought laughter, tears and memories, as I am an ex-Skokie person too. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I can't wait for Linda's next book! What a tremendous talent!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is our next book club choice May 26, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the kind of storytelling that makes you put life on hold so that you can finish the book. I am not Jewish but I related to the memoir because of the humorous and honest style of writing as she remembers her life in a family of 7 girls. The author has the same charm and wit as Garrison Keillor as she makes her ordinary life sound extraordinary in the poignant stories of coming of age in Skokie, Illinois. I literally was laughing out loud page after page because she has such a keen sense of the ridiculous.
This is a very insightful memoir written with details that made me laugh and cry. I didn't want it to end!
Yes, the Holocaust is ever present in her recollections but the book is first and foremost a book about what it was like to exist and thrive and find meaning in life in spite of the tragic events in the lives of both her mother and father. She demonstrates a genuine fondness for her sisters, parents and extended family of other Holocaust survivors. This is a happy book that I will read again because it is so much fun!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mother's journey May 26, 2011
By ramrod
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Recommended reading. A personal experience of surviving the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of the author's mother. An experience that haunted her and her family throughout their lives leaving them frozen in time. The book is not without humor as I found myself laughing at the author's very visual description of people and her childhood events. Imagine yourself living with six sisters. I was the fifth of seven sisters so I could totally relate. I could not put the book down until my reading was completed. Hopefully, there is a sequel in the works. This book has been an inspiration to my daughter to continue writing her personal journal of relationships. We all have in us a personal story to tell.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't put Looking Up down! June 26, 2011
Stunning! I couldn't put Looking Up down. This author was able to weave some heartbreakingly painful, astonishingly detailed memories of her parent's Holocaust stories with a not-so-typical but extremely familiar upbringing into a laughing one minute, crying the next trip through time. I can't wait for the next one by Linda Pressman, her humor and talent are amazing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Unique March 5, 2013
I found this book to be a unique slant on the impact of the Holocaust on survivors and their famiilies. Pressman weaves together the cosmic tragic horrors of the Holocause with comic coming-of-age angst in a way that dramatizes each. Without the comic relief, the brutalities that her mother and family suffered would be too grim for me to keep reading. Without the Holocuast background, the story would have been a welcome and fresh coming-of-age story but not nearly as powerful. Pressman makes a brave choice in mixing these strands together and in not over-sentimentalizing her mother, trusting that the raw reality will speak for itself. It does. A must-read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing book from start to finish! June 23, 2011
By H. Burt
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was an amazing read!!! Linda is so descriptive in this book that you feel like you were dig for more of the story. The book will make tears roll down your face in one moment then have you laughing out loud in the next moment. I am so proud of my aunt Linda! Yes, Linda is my aunt. My mom is one of the twins. My Bubbe is like a 2nd mother to me. My aunts like 2nd moms. All 6 of them calling me to checking on me...not knowing which voice was my mom's and which my aunts. They share the same laugh and there is no mistaking that they are 7 close sisters brought up under one small roof. In the book you will hear about the personalities, the upbringing, the baseline of what made my grandparents who there are and who they were. The book is not just geared towards people of Jewish decent, or people with exuberant grandparents (Bubbes/Zada's) like mine nor do you need a mid-west background to relate. The book is entertaining and factual all at once. It's a quick read because your engulfed in it from page 1. You can't put it down and then of course there is the tragedy of finishing the book and wanting more. I think this is a book worth owning, worth adding to your book club or book collection. I know you too will put both thumbs up in your review. Congratulations for writing such a wonderful book. I love you!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful story
Published 20 days ago by leeanne Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
LOVED this book! It captured so many elements of my childhood! I laughed and I cried.
Published 5 months ago by Sheila U.
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
the book is sorely in need of editing. there are multiple stories intertwined in an ineffective fashion.
Published 5 months ago by Barbara S Stern
5.0 out of 5 stars GOOD READING
A GREAT MEMOIR I am not a Jew, I did not grow up in Skokie, I am not a woman and you dont need to be either to enjoy this book! Well worth the time and money.
Published 6 months ago by samuel g wagenseller
4.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age
This is an interesting coming of age memoir. I so identified with the times, growing up in the 60s and 70s. Read more
Published 9 months ago by AnneM
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
This is a wonderful book! I enjoyed reading it and the memories it brought back. Although my family life was vastly different than the author's, it was relatable on many levels. Read more
Published 9 months ago by dawn
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 10 months ago by sharon carroll
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh, remarkably well-written and at times surprisingly...
A fresh, remarkably well-written and at times surprisingly entertaining look into the unending and unexpected effects the Holocaust had on survivors and their children and their... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mary A.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book I Never Wanted to End...
You don't have to have familiarity with 1960 Skokie, Holocaust parents, or large families to read this book but for me who has two out the three, I was blown away by how many... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lindy Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed. Not what I expected
Disappointed. Not what I expected. Very little about the Holocaust. Writer tells stories about herself and sisters growing up in the 60's (stories that were not very... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Karen Snitchler
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More About the Author

The Grand Prize Winner in the 20th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Contest, Linda Pressman is a freelance writer, speaker, blogger and editor. She has worked as both the Short Story and Blog Editor for Poetica Magazine, a print and online literary journal focusing on contemporary Jewish thought. Her work has appeared in Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers; in Poetica Magazine; in Znine, the literary magazine of the University of Texas - Arlington; and in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Her work has also appeared in two anthologies, the Maricopa Anthology and Mizmor L'David, a compilation of work by children of Holocaust Survivors. She blogs at Bar Mitzvahzilla, one of the top 30 Jewish blogs on JBlog, and on Open Salon. She has a Bachelor's degree in History, completed all coursework towards a Master's in History, and holds a Master's Degree in English, with which she's taught college as an adjunct. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and may be reached by email at

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