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Grace Revealed: a memoir Paperback – January 11, 2015
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A powerful, haunting, and heartfelt tale about one man's attempt to embrace his Polish family's past, shed light on the forgotten deported Poles of the 1940s, and expose the emotional ripple effects that remain. --Huffington Post
Astounding and important. A spiritual and historical work that many will be talking about and embracing for years to come. --Cara Wilson-Granat, author of Dear Cara: Letters From Otto Frank
From the Author
To be sure, I always knew that I would write about my Polish family's unique survival story during the 1940s. As a child growing up in Chicago, I often heard my mother--and aunt, and uncles--talk about the time when Stalin deported them and nearly 1 million other Poles, thrusting all of them into a dark uncertainty in Siberian labor camps. After spending many years as a journalist in Northern California, I thought that writing an article about their endeavor would be enough. However I was wrong ... but it took a series of serendipitous "signs" to nudge me further and truly dive deeper into their tale. The result is "Grace Revealed." While there were many deep, emotional moments writing this book, I found that I understood the complexities of my grandmother, Jadwiga, much more. In the vein of "Sophie's Choice," she faced seemingly insurmountable challenges to keep her children alive. I also walked away with a newfound respect for the Polish citizens who braved a remarkable journey, one that the history books nearly erased.
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Top Customer Reviews
I wish to state up front that I am a friend of the author. I have done my best to stand back and be objective. I also wish to reveal that I was born in a foreign country who escaped the horrors of Hitler, and so my empathy for refugees who underwent years of unimaginable hardship is admittedly beyond measure.
Interestingly, this uplifting and unique memoir was born when a framed photograph of the author’s large and loving Polish family came crashing to the floor from its place on the wall… its glass frame smashed to bits. A fervent believer in “signs from the universe,” Archer felt this had to be a sign from the universe telling him to do something he had long contemplated: namely, to write his family’s near-death journey when forced to flee Poland during Stalin’s reign of tyranny.
Archer visited the small towns in Poland… entering the churches of their past, speaking to citizens who might have known them, researching the circumstances of their former lives. And the coincidences that befell him in his journey are an engrossing part of the magic of this book… and the Grace of its title.
An award-winning journalist, Archer interviewed his surviving relatives, and there are chapters in which these awesome survivors describe the horrors of those years in their own powerful words.
Archer is also a performance artist with a genuine talent for sharing his own personal travails with an impressive degree of honesty and delightful humor. The chapters in which he relates his own growth and transformation as a result of undertaking this challenging book is an added dividend to these moving stories from this important period in history.
As a girl I had read about Stalin's labor camps in Siberia. Greg reminded me of those horrors as well as the incredible strength of the human spirit in surviving and ultimately overcoming extreme adversity. Greg brings his endearing self-deprecating sense of humor to his story which he interweaves deftly with his family's both painful and life-affirming history. In doing so, we get to know both Greg and his family. I thank Greg for sharing his excellent coping mechanism of using a touch of humor to cope with what could be overwhelming. I hope to learn to do the same in my own writing.
I'm left with two very strong impressions. First, it has shaken my view of the Polish story as one of unending victim hood. Instead, I am grasping the strength beyond all understanding that led Grandma Jadwiga to hold on when quite literally everything needed for survival had been stripped away. She held on to her faith as tightly as she grasped her rosary beads. It was sufficient to lead her surviving family members through a ten year journey that brought them to safety in Chicago in 1950. It helps me to understand the fierce faith of my parent, which is not the self-righteous, judgemental version of some present day religions, but a tenacious belief and trust in a loving God that will see you through anything. A faith that impels you to act justly and be loving even when all around you are cruel and violent.
My second impression is in considering the legacy effect of ancestors going through this experience. Greg is honest about his own struggles with mood swings. Writing this book was opening himself up to looking and reporting on the horror and atrocity. On the one hand you see that all Polish people have been wounded by our collective past. On the other hand you see Greg's playful humor, his family's love and closeness and ability to have great times together and you know that is the legacy too. I appreciate this book. It was like finally getting what I'd been looking for- what it means to be Polish and what it is about the Polish character that makes me proud to claim it as my own.