Read 4/3/10 - 4/10/10
3 Stars - Recommended to readers familiar with genre
Jeannette was kind enough to mail me a copy of her story - and a lovely matching bookmark as well! - and has waited patiently for me to read and review it.
Broken Birds, written by Jeannette Katzir, is the multigenerational memoir that documents the lives of two Holocaust survivors and the unfortunate, irreversible damage that inflicts upon their relationships with their remaining family members, their children, and their children's children.
While I tend to walk past non-fiction novels while shopping, I do remain open to reading them when they are recommended, or gifted to me. It's true that I am a fiction lover through and through. But I am also a well-told story lover. And that is what Jeannette has to offer her readers - a well-told story.
What a challenge it must be to write the story of your life, and the life of your parents. When an author is telling a story from their own point of view, they run the risk of, at times, tainting it by their own emotions and personal recollections of the facts and conversations that occured. How difficult it must have been for Jeanette Katzir to tell her story, the Story of her Momila, how painful and draining, and how brave to write it all down and to allow the world the opportunity to critique and criticize it.
Jeannette managed to write her story in such a way that it reads like fiction - the chapters flow off the page, the details so sharp and the people so human - I had to remind myself that what I was reading was real. That the events Channa and Nathan (her mother and father) are described to have survived were real events, and that this story, all of it, is real.
Katzir lays it all out there. The fear those events instilled in her mother, the way the trama of being a survivor unintentionally soured how she dealt with "strangers" and unconventionally attempted to protected her children. The way the fear manifested itself - in her appearing "cheap" and not allowing anything to be wasted, stashing money all over the house, sheltering her husband from infidelity for fear that he would leave her for "someone better", and infusing doubt into every single one of her children when they tryed to make a better life for themselves. How living under those circumstances actually caused the one thing she feared the most to happen - her family began to fall apart.
Katzir describes how she and her siblings fought amongst themselves as adults, and mistrusted one another. Turned their backs on one another or teamed up against each other. She describes the life her father Nathan lived - hard working, peace-making Nathan - and how her mothers death dealt the final devastating blow to them all.
A painful and vivid picture of how the damage of the Holocaust and the reign of Hitler continues to make itself known generations later. And how Katzir and her family attempt to repair their broken wings, and move beyond the bitterness to a better life.