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The Lucky One: A Memoir of Life, Loss and Survival in Eastern Europe Paperback – February 20, 2016
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Top customer reviews
Do not be deceived by Ms. Ostroff's introduction. She paints a picture of a Donna Reed type mother telling tales around a kitchen table to the smells of home cooking. But as her mother relates the perils of her early life, you realize this is no ordinary parent.
The author periodically steps in to expand on the living conditions and historical details that weren't available to her mother. Details that help us understand how close to disaster she came. You will learn things not covered in high school history. Governments, including the U.S., and many of our heroes, do not come off well in this tale. The roots of ethnic hatred that led to the Holocaust take on personal meaning. Ms. Ostroff's mother's difficulties in getting to America have some similarities to the problems of present day refugees who are trying to escape oppression.
Ms. Ostroff also takes us aside to explain many Jewish customs, rituals, and traditions which enrich the family's lives, but also complicate the business of making their way to America.
So why only 4 stars? The story requires close attention because of Ms. Ostroff's technique of telling her mother's story at the same time her mother is telling about her own mother. It is easy to mix who is being talked about. Also young Americans today may not be very familiar with this period of history. Some mention of events we are more familiar with, such as the construction of the Statue of Liberty, the sinking of the Titanic, and Lindbergh's transatlantic flight, would help us frame the scene more easily.
I believe many 5 star ratings are written by well-meaning friends and publicists and do not tell very much. I find I learn more from 4 star ratings. Besides, this is Sherry Ostroff's first book. I don't want to waste my 5 stars too soon.
The book is divided into two distinct sections. The first is a first-person account, written by Ita, of her, and her family’s history of life in Russia and then their emigration to America. It is recognizable because it is printed in italics. Mrs. Ostroff then wrote the second part of the book, intertwining it with Ita's story, and it is printed in “normal” script. It elaborates on her mother’s tale by supplying additional historical facts and clarifying narratives.
The story told by Ita, is fascinating in its own right, but the amount of historical research, completed by Mrs. Ostroff, in order to explain, highlight, and enhance Ita’s story is truly impressive.
It makes for a worthwhile, and educational “trip” through the American immigrant experience. Consequently, the book is an excellent read for anyone interested in learning more about the difficulties encountered by Eastern European Jewish immigrants in their coming to America, and their attempts to adjust to the way of life of their new homeland.
I liked that Mrs. Ostroff had her chapters tucked in between her mother's writings and noted in her writings which words were not her mother's with brackets.
This is not normally 'my kind of book', but honestly it was so interesting that it kept me up past midnight two nights in a row. I couldn't put it down and at the end, I was wishing there was more.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a look into the past as lived by a truly remarkable woman.