Law Offices of Elliott Kanter APC - October/November 2019

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October/November 2019

‘WE WERE THE LUCKY ONES’ A POWERFUL READ

I’m not normally one for fiction, as those of you who’ve kept up with these book reviews have undoubtedly figured out. It’s not that I dislike imaginative stories, but I’ve always found histories, biographies, and thought- provoking works of nonfiction to be more interesting. However, I have a special place in my heart for historical fiction. When done well, historical fiction can bring the past to life better than any textbook. “We Were the Lucky Ones” is one such transcendent work, managing to be moving, powerful, and deeply vital to modern audiences. A New York Times bestseller, “Lucky Ones” isn’t just based on a true story; it’s drawn from personal accounts. Author Georgia Hunter’s journey toward writing this book began when she was just 15 years old, which is how old she was when she learned she was the descendant of Holocaust survivors. As Hunter herself writes, “The discovery sparked a dizzying array of questions … Why was I just learning this now?” Thankfully for us all, she

didn’t stop investigating, and eventually, she shared her family’s incredible story of heartbreak and survival. Without spoiling too much, the story follows Hunter’s Jewish ancestors, the Kurc family, as World War II erupts. As the Nazis occupy their native Poland, three

To me, the power of historical fiction is how it makes the past feel far less distant than it does in history. We don’t just get to see the side of the Kurc family that survived in documents and family recollections. We see their hopes, their fears, and their collective capacity to find hope

generations of the Kurc family are forced to do

whatever it takes to survive. Facing the horrors of persecution, they separate in a desperate bid to escape the Third Reich, or else hide in plain sight. The narrative jumps between multiple family members, taking readers into the incredible stories of their unlikely escapes. Now, some of you may be questioning if this book can be called historical fiction. After all, it’s based on family accounts, including the author’s own grandfather — a prominent character in the story. Wouldn’t this be a biography? Well, not quite. What makes “Lucky Ones” a novel is the little embellishments and narrative pacing you just don’t get from nonfiction. The characters and events are very real, but the splash of creativity that comes in the form of imagined conversations, moments, and thoughts takes this book outside the scope of a purely academic work, and that’s a good thing.

even when circumstances are at their darkest. We get to live in the moment with them, and that’s what takes these characters from being mere historical figures to full-fledged human beings. It’s one thing to view events like the Holocaust as a list of facts in a textbook, but it’s another to step into the shoes of those fleeing its horror. Works like “Lucky Ones” are visceral reminders of the cruelty humanity can inflict on itself and the world at large. Remembering the crimes of Nazi Germany is always important, but today, as minorities and immigrants are increasingly dehumanized, these kinds of books are more crucial than ever. Hunter’s work is a moving read that is, sadly, extremely relevant to the challenges we face today.

“IT’S ONE THING TO VIEW EVENTS LIKE THE HOLOCAUST AS A LIST OF FACTS IN A TEXTBOOK, BUT IT’S ANOTHER TO STEP INTO THE SHOES OF THOSE FLEEING ITS HORROR.”

-Elliott Kanter

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