Saturday, April 15, 2017

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

Even though I rated this book a 5, it doesn't mean it's without its flaws. I'm sure people can do a lot of pin pointing and finding faults with this one, but in the end, I loved it. I don't know if it's fair to give true stories more value and I know that not every true story is written in such a way that moves you, but when one does, it's worth telling people about. I think that's why we love stories like Night and Man's Search for Meaning. They have a depth about them. It's about resiliency and hope and seeing it through a narrative story can make it more impactful. 

This really was a family history research endeavor of nine years by the author to uncover an unlikely story of her ancestors' survival during World War II. The Kurcs, a Polish Jewish family (all married or soon to be), lived in Poland at the beginning of the war but all were eventually scattered through different parts of western Europe, Siberia, and Brazil during the war. Miraculously, they all survived which is astounding thinking that fewer than 300 of the 30,000 people in their town of Radom survived. Hence the title We Were the Lucky Ones. 

The story takes on the path of each of the children and how they all eventually were led back to each other. Some went for more than 6 years not knowing any news of their family and if they made it alive. Thinking back on it, some of the chapters seemed like specific stories she must have heard from her aunts and uncles and grandparents like it was straight out of the interview. The stories of the hoops they had to jump to escape or survive was amazing. Each of the children's perspective were unique and some I grew to love more as the story went on. 

If this story wasn't true and especially if the ending wasn't true and the author just decided to make it up, I would probably say that it was too sappy and unrealistic and it was the author's way of supplying the American demand for happy endings. But it actually happened! It's absolutely incredible. 

Usually it's a sign that I like the book when I want to learn more of the back story of how the book came to be, which I love to do. Here's the author's website to learn more and here's an interview she did on the day the book came out. I love on her website that she gave family history tips on finding stories of your ancestors (and that she gives a little plug for FamilySearch and BYU Family History Archives). 

I know there are so many WWII books out there and so many angles taken with it but if you liked Everyone Brave is Forgiven or The Nightingale, I thought it strung along the same lines, but I actually liked this one better. 


  1. My comment doesn't totally relate -- but the summary of this book reminded me of relative Race the show. I know I'm crazy about that show. But listen, it has been so good for family history and promoting family. It reminded me of this because a girl on the show met her SISTER this week. HER SISTER. I mean, I can't imagine not knowing one of my sisters. So much of my life is shaped by my siblings.

    1. Wow that's insane that she just met her sister. Ok you've convinced me that I need to watch this show! I think I will this weekend. Thanks Bubs!

  2. This book sounds great! I've finally got it to listen to, and I'm excited. Thanks for sharing. I love true stories, especially with happy endings.