Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review: Broken Birds - The Story of My Momila

Sibling rivalry, family feuds, money disputes are not limited to the children of Holocaust survivors.  They happen in a lot of families regardless of culture, ethnic groups and geography.  How many people are still close to their married siblings?  How many people are close to their aunts, uncles and cousins?  I myself barely know my cousins because I barely know my aunts and uncles.   I'm spending less and less time with my siblings after they got married.  We don't know our uncles and aunts that well and we are almost strangers to our cousins because our parents had grown apart from their siblings for the same dynamics that happened to this book's author.  This book may be about the children of Holocaust survivors, but it can be about anyone who grew up in any family anywhere in the world.  While I may have some grudges that I am holding against my siblings, I don't think I will ever have the courage to write a memoir about them.  My parents and my siblings will kill me if I dare.  Besides, there is always two sides of the story.  I wonder what the author's siblings' memoirs will be like if they ever write one.  So, I really admire the author's courage and honesty in writing about her family, particularly in such intimate details about her siblings.

This book is pretty well written overall. I started the book with an expectation that it would be mostly about the authors' parents' experiences from the Holocaust and then how they became broken psychologically and emotionally and the hardship they experienced when picking up their life together after liberation... But her parents turned out to be very strong and were able to put the trauma behind them to live a productive and normal life. They turned out to have a pretty good life after the liberation, which I am very glad.  I feel their life after the war was very normal, a lot more normal than a lot of the people that I know.  

Regardless of my different expectation, the book is entertaining and it gives me a glimpse of how others live their life. I can see some of the characters from this book in my own family.  This book is a family story well told and it keeps me interested.  It's not a book that will keep me up all night reading it, yet it's not a book that I will put aside without wanting to know what happens next .  This memoir has a somewhat sad ending, but it's what it is.  Unlike fairy tales, real life stories don't  always end well.  I just hope this honest memoir doesn't cause anymore damage to the already damaged relationship the author had with her siblings....Best of luck, Jaclyn, thank you for sharing your sometimes sweet, sometimes sad, and sometimes funny family dramas with me.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Reading About Kiev and Uzhgorod

I discovered Kiev by reading this book, the absolutely beautiful capital of Ukraine. The above photo shows the glorious St Michael's Golden Dome Monastery in Kiev.  Below is the River Uzh in Uzhgorod, where the author of this book took a trip with her family to visit her dad's childhood home.
When I was reading the book, I could see the author and her family walking through the narrow streets below in Uzhgorod in search of her father's old home.