Thursday, October 16, 2008

Book Review:The Pages In Between

The Pages In Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One home by Erin Einhorn

Description From Simon & Schuster:
In a unique, intensely moving memoir, Erin Einhorn finds the family in Poland who saved her mother from the holocaust. But instead of a joyful reunion, Erin unearths a dispute that forces her to navigate the increasingly bitter crossroads between memory and truth.

To a young newspaper reporter, it was the story of a lifetime: a Jewish infant born in the ghetto, saved from the Nazis by a Polish family, uprooted to Sweden after the war, repeatedly torn away from the people she knew as family -- all to take a transatlantic journey with a father she'd barely known toward a new life in the United States.

Who wouldn't want to tell that tale? Growing up in suburban Detroit, Erin Einhorn pestered her mother to share details about the tumultuous, wartime childhood she'd experienced. "I was always loved," was all her mother would say, over and over again. But, for Erin, that answer simply wasn't satisfactory. She boarded a plane to Poland with a singular mission: to uncover the truth of what happened to her mother and reunite the two families who once worked together to save a child. But when Erin finds Wieslaw Skowronski, the elderly son of the woman who sheltered her mother, she discovers that her search will involve much more than just her mother's childhood.

Sixty years prior, at the end of World War II, Wieslaw Skowronski claimed that Erin's grandfather had offered the Skowronskis his family home in exchange for hiding his daughter. But for both families, the details were murky. If the promise was real, fulfilling it would be arduous and expensive. To unravel the truth and resolve the decades-old land dispute, Erin must search through centuries of dusty records and maneuver an outdated, convoluted legal system. As she tries to help the Skowronski family, Erin must also confront the heart-wrenching circumstances of her family's tragic past while coping with unexpected events in her own life that will alter her mission completely.

Six decades after two families were brought together by history, Erin is forced to separate the facts from the glimmers of fiction handed down in the stories of her ancestors. In this extraordinariy intimate memoir, journalist Erin Einhorn overcomes seemingly insurmountable barriers -- legal, financial, and emotional -- only to question her own motives and wonder how far she should go to right the wrongs of the past.

This is a gripping and touching memoir that reads like a detective story. Erin Einhorn has always known that her mother ,who was born in Poland ,was saved from the Nazi's by a Polish Family. Erin has always been drawn to this part of her mother's past and is frustrated that her mother only shares bits and pieces based on her own memory. Memory can be elusive. We may only remember the good things and block out the past or we twist it subconsciously in our own minds to make it bearable to confront. Erin isn't sure if that memory is chosen memories or if there are things that happened in her mother's childhood that she has chosen to forget. Erin was drawn to journalism from high school and she even wrote a story in high school about her mother's past that earned her great honor. She chose to use her journalistic skills to go to Poland and to try to find the family who saved her mother's life. She was able to track down the elderly son of the woman who saved and protected her mother. Wieslaw, the son, claimed that Erin's grandfather had offered them his family home in exchange for protecting and hiding Erin's mother. The details of this exchange were unclear and confusing and this took Erin along a path to try and reveal the truth. It was difficult, as she required translators and had to find and access old records in an age old system that was difficult to navigate to find records and documents.
Along the way, Erin had to deal with many painful challenges in Poland and in her own life that affected her past and present.

This book held my attention all the way through. This is also a story of a mother and daughter and their journey through life together, including the ups and the downs. Through this experience, Erin learned that her mother had a past that was difficult for her to discuss and those experiences shaped who she became as a person, a woman, wife and mother. As daughters, I believe that many of us can relate to and understand this, I know that I certainly have. I was extremely impressed by Erin's tenacity strength and perseverence to find important keys to her families past. All of this while living in a foreign country where she did not speak the language. She had to confront and deal with the past memories of the atrocities of the Holocaust and the knowledge that many of her family members were killed. For me, this story became a bit personal as I have Jewish roots and my own great grandfather came from Poland. It has inspired me to inquire more about my own family history and past. One of my great aunts is the family historian and I plan to sit down with her soon and interview her by either taping or videotaping, if she will agree! I did learn recently from this great aunt that she found out that a great-great aunt was killed during the Holocaust. This effects me deeply and personally as so many other families have been deeply touched and families and lives have been destroyed. It is estimated that over 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust and this is something that we as a nation and as part of humanity cannot EVER forget. I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Pages in Between, it is a story that will touch your heart and spark an interest in searching your own family history.

Please check out Erin Einhorn's website for this book at Pages In Between.

Here is information about ordering the book which was just released in September 2008:

The Pages In Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One Home
By Erin Einhorn

Touchstone, Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 288 pages
ISBN-10: 1-4165-5830-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-5830-9

You can order the book here.

Hear the story as told by the author Erin Einhorn to This American Life:
Fake I.D.


  1. Sounds very powerful. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. What an awesome review Bonnie! I've read other reviews of this and heard the same thing-that this is one novel well worth reading. It is on my tbr list for sure.

    How exciting to be able to sit down with your great aunt and learn about your history. I'd sure love to do that.

  3. Hi Bonnie.. if the book was half as intriguing as your review then it is going to be great. I am adding it to my list. And this one might even bump a few to a lower status. It sounds like a really moving book.

  4. Lovely review, and what a different book. Amazing! :-) thanks!

  5. Bonnie, I can't wait to read this book. It's great that it made you think about your family history and inspired you to record it. I think you definitely should!

  6. Great review! I definitely plan on reading this book soon. I'm always looking for good books dealing with WWII.


  7. I really would love to read this. This is a great review.


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