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Heirlooms: Stories Paperback – September 16, 2016
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From the Back Cover
Heirlooms is a fascinating series of interconnected stories about members of an extended family of Jews before, during and long after the holocaust, in France, in Israel, in the United States. Different women and men define themselves in resistance, denial and ignorance of history through four generations...In some ways the entire book is a meditation on the meaning of family and history. -Marge Piercy
Heirlooms is an exquisite and thrilling collection. In fearless and incandescent prose, Rachel Hall traces the fragile resilience and quiet horrors of those displaced by war. She happens to be writing about the Second World War, but these are stories that speak to the essential human experiences of exile and loss and survival. Heirlooms captures what it is to be a refugee, and an immigrant, with a delicacy and precision that delights and haunts. -Steve Almond
Heirlooms is a masterful collection, infused with devastating beauty. Focusing her precise artistry on the chaos of war, Rachel Hall succeeds in animating loss, preserving memory, and adding powerful imaginative truth to the historical record. -Joanna Scott
In Heirlooms, Rachel Hall has built an irresistible and gem lit kaleidoscope, capturing within it the intricate, ephemeral private moments of women and men fleeing wartime violence, neighbors who bear witness or turn away, and children who carry the legacies. Each turn brings another vital angle, another dimension: Hall's vision crosses borders and generations, through language at once lyrical and deeply distilled. Heirlooms is a beautiful, transporting, and necessary book. -Nancy Reisman
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Should remind us of the stories of immigrants coming to America today!
But then I read the middle story of the book titled "Heirlooms" as the collection is named and this is by far my favorite. The writing for me came to life as did the characters with the telling of the things they left behind - family , graves, baby things -hand made clothes , a carriage, friends. "They left words, phrases, a sureness with language. Their mother tongue. They left their names ...,"
The writing is spare but beautiful and full of the sadness depicting the losses, including things they wanted to leave behind, and then the things they could not leave behind. I read it twice . It's in this story that I felt I came to know what their life was like before coming to America. I almost wish this had been the first story in the collection, letting the others take us back in time and back again. From here on, I loved the writing, cared about the characters. From that story on it had the feel of a novel to me. My other favorite was the final story "In the Cemeteries of Saint-Malo." Highly recommended, even if you don't usually read short stories, like me. This really was one story and a beautiful one, based on the author's family.
Thanks to BkMk Press/The University of Missouri-Kansas City and NetGalley for this ARC.