“Reading Georgia Hunter's We Were the Lucky Ones is like being swung heart first into history. . . . A brave and mesmerizing debut, and a truly tremendous accomplishment.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife
An extraordinary, propulsive novel based on the true story of a family of Polish Jews who are separated at the start of the Second World War, determined to survive—and to reunite
It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.
As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
In a novel of breathtaking sweep and scope that spans five continents and six years and transports readers from the jazz clubs of Paris to Kraków's most brutal prison to the ports of Northern Africa and the farthest reaches of the Siberian gulag, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century's darkest moment, the human spirit can find a way to survive, and even triumph.
Review of We Were the Lucky Ones
Beautifully penned and aptly named We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter is the true story of the Kurc family living in Poland during WWII that miraculously survived the horror of the Holocaust. An unbelievable story told with love and tenderness Georgia Hunter gives us the details of the Kurc family’s ability to defy the odds to stay alive while most family, neighbors and friends were killed or sent to labor camps to die of starvation or extermination.
On the brink of WWII the Kurc family, with the exception of their middle son Addy, is living in Poland. Anti-Jewish sentiment is rising and the Kurc’s are not immune to the hostility and cruel treatment inflicted on the Jewish citizens as well as their friends and neighbors. As Germany invades from the west and the Soviet Union from the east, Poland and its Jewish citizens are now in danger of being systematically eliminated. As businesses’ are closed and citizens evicted from their homes and properties, Jewish families are forced to live in fenced ghettos and work assigned jobs for long hours in harsh conditions. With little money, food or prospects most of what they own has been sold to survive. As the eldest son Genek and his wife are shipped off to Siberia to meet their fate in the work camps and Addy is forced to leave Europe the remaining members of the Kurc family scramble to exist. With grit and determination the family moves about Poland always and unbelievably managing to stay one step ahead of the Nazi’s. Through trials of hunger, prison, sickness and separation the family never gives up always determined to survive and be united again.
I really liked this book. The characters were beautiful and haunting. Every time I put the book down I couldn’t wait to pick it up again hoping someone would come to their rescue. The characters tore at your heart. The love, trials, fear and pain was so well relayed for the reader. An additional bonus in this book was the author’s notes. Don’t skip the notes on this book. To discover that the story of the Kurc family is also the author’s story was astonishing. Addy was Georgia Hunter’s grandfather. How proud the author must be to relay this courageous and poignant story of her family’s survival. In addition to the beautiful storyline, Georgia Hunter also includes a historic timeline of events in each chapter as the war in Europe unfolds. It is a bit of history and a beautiful addition to the story for the reader.
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter is a story of courage and determination. It is a story of surviving despite impossible odds. It is an example of what the human spirit is capable of in the most desperate of situations. It is never giving up, always believing and always loving. It is the Kurcs' family story. A must read for everyone.
I want to thank Penguin Group Viking via NetGalley for an advanced copy of Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones for a fair and honest review.
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