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The Rings Of My Tree: A Latvian Woman's Journey Paperback – February 4, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Llumina Press (February 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595263489
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595263483
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is the story that needed to be told and now needs to be absorbed." -- Violeta Kelertas, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, past president of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies

"This story makes a strong contribution to Latvian history and the history of women. It deserves the widest possible readership." -- Agate Nesaule, author of A Woman in Amber

About the Author

After thirty years in the aerospace industry and international marketing, the author retired and tutored adults in English-as-a-Second-Language and continues to study consciousness and the extraordinary within the ordinary. A graduate of St. Joseph College, Jane lives and writes in Connecticut.

More About the Author

September 14, 2012

I have chosen to update readers on Mirdza (left in the photo, me on the right). Mirdza is now 92 years old and lives in a nursing home in Connecticut near her sons and friends. She does participate in daily activities and is, over all, in good spirits. Now fifty-six years after our first meeting, Mirdza is still a woman in my life from whom I learn about life.

We are both very pleased that the Latvian community has embraced Mirdza's story. It has been my honor to have been a contributor to Latvian history and also to those readers who have learned how to live and survive better because Mirdza's story was told.

Kindly,
Jane,

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Mirdza makes a decision to live.
Zinta Aistars
I want to thank Mirzda for telling her story to someone who was able to bring it to life and to write it down.
Millthumpian
Once you start reading it, you can't put this book down.
S. Buchbinder

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Silvija Vecrumba on August 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Rings of My Tree is a well-told story of one young woman's journey starting in pre-WWII Latvia. We follow Jane's friend Mirdza as she is ripped from her beloved home in Liepaja (which was also my mother's home at the time the war started), is separated from family and friends, and ends up, like so many of our own family and relatives, in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany. For those of us that are Latvian, it is a familiar story. However, many Latvians of my generation, including myself, regrettably never heard the whole story from their parents, for one reason or another--most often it was because they were memories they did not want to recall, or that they simply wanted to "spare us." Still, over the years, I had gathered bits and pieces of my parents' separate experiences, and reading Mirdza's account helped me put those pieces into context and understand them better.

Regardless of what your own history is with the WWII and immigrant experience, The Rings of My Tree is well worth reading. As I mentioned, the story is familiar, and there are no great surprises--but I found peace in Mirdza's quiet strength as I read this book. Before reading Mirdza's tale, I had read book reviews that described Mirdza as submissive; I don't agree at all. She was assertive when necessary and smart enough not to make waves in the face of dire consequences, even when threatened with death. In her new home she learned how to get along for the greater good. Like all of the brave Latvians that survived the ravages of war, the camps, and then started over as immigrants in new countries, Mirdza showed great courage and tenacity.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Zinta Aistars on December 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
The monsters and beasts in my childhood bedtime stories were not imaginary. They were flesh and blood and in human form, and usually they wore the uniforms of the Red Army. They marched in my parents' memories, relentless and cruel, driving them from their homes in Latvia during World War II. My parents were refugees, displaced to camps in Germany in the 1940's while awaiting sponsors for their immigration to the United States. Although I was born in the States, I have known two homes, two cultures, two languages, two histories, and the stories on which I was raised have become a part of my ethnic inheritance.

Reading Jane E. Cunningham's book about another Latvian woman's personal journey as a refugee from Latvia to the United States during the war was like hearing the stories of my parents all over again. What amazed me, however, were the accuracy of perception and a to-the-core understanding of an experience the author could not have shared. Cunningham, after all, is not Latvian. She is an Irish-American living in Connecticut, a teacher, and no closer to the Latvian experience than, well, crossing the street, as it turned out. For 45 years, Cunningham has known and befriended her neighbor, Mirdza Vaselnieks Labrencis. Now a woman in her mid-eighties, Mirdza has shared her stories about her home in Latvia and her journey to America with her most attentive neighbor, resulting in this slender but powerful book. Cunningham has even written it as a first-person account-a daring move, but one at which she was surprisingly successful. In nearly every detail and perception, the story is Mirdza's. It is also the story of most all Latvian refugees.

To survive-"where there is life, there is hope"-Mirdza undergoes a psychological shifting in her spirit and in her psyche.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S. Buchbinder on November 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
My mother escaped from Latvia in 1944. Her path to freedom, through Poland, Berlin, and Hanau, was very much like that described so well in this book. This book tells a compelling story of Mirdza. It is a must read for anyone who is interested in the Baltics, or in what life was like as a refugee during WW II. It is down to earth, highly readable, and heart warming. Once you start reading it, you can't put this book down. This book also is inspiring when life seems hard.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By ottoline on November 27, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are very few works in English descrbing the Latvian displaced-person (DP) experience. This a VERY GOOD one. A terrifying story of what really happens in war and its aftermath, and one young woman's response to it. Whether your thoughts are with the Latvians of 50 yrs ago or with today's refugees in war-torn areas, this is a page-turner. And because Agate Nesaule recommends it (above), you KNOW you are in good company. This story could have died when its 82-yr-old subject will, but instead it will live on, thanks to this book, unlike those of so many others. This is an important contribution and a GREAT, INSPIRING READ, and historically accurate too.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Carol, neighbor on November 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I did not want this book to end. In reading it, it brought me through every experience with her. It sounded just like the stories she told me over her fence as we were neighbors for eight years and have contiued to be friends for the past 18 yrs.

It made me love her even more!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Wittman on January 4, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book which relates very closley to my own Mother's situation, in escaping from Latvia with her Sister, Mother and Father. I felt the book was very true to the plight of all of the Baltic People and their forgotten past. A very easy and understandible read. I enjoyed it and bought copies for my siblings. Well Done!
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