What happens when your past becomes your present and you unravel secrets about your life, family and heritage that you never understood or knew? A story told in many voices past and present relating the horrors of the Holocaust. The author discovers her family’s History in Holland and learned about why her mother was so upset years later and realized that there were secretes that her hidden. When her mother passes she decided to investigate the history of the family and the author tells a sad, tragic story . The fictional story of Sophia’s childhood, teen years in Holland and the truths about the Holocaust and more, the timelines past and present keep the reader glued to the printed page wanting to learn more. How do you deal with the fact that your family was practically obliterated during the war? Dates are quoted, the story is real but how did the author react when she learned the harsh truth? You grow up and you think you know your parents and yet she learned and got a look into her mother’s past when she traveled with her from Estevan, Saskatchewan where she was born to Amsterdam Holland the country where the author was born. Imagine meeting relatives she never knew existed and learning that her mother was Jewish, Dutch Jewish and not able to relate it to her.
Growing up she learned that relatives were separated by great distances and relationships were hard to develop. “ As far as elusive family twins went, this was new to me, despite my mother’s dropped comment. There is much more.
The chapter titled The Birthday was heartfelt and yet sad. Poor Flora was not really allowed to be more girly and yet she withstood so much from her mother and family. The family name was Vittali and the sat down at dinner and were invited by Giovanni. Loud boisterous greetings flooded around the twins and meeting the ants and uncles you wanted to become part of this group. The author introduces us to the twin on pate 37 we get two meet each of them and describe their appearances. Poor Flora was sandwiched between the two books and the Two in Line soon fell apart and she was able to free herself a little form the confinement. But, then an embarrassing situation and becoming a young woman can be hard for a young teen to understand and deal with. The chapter titled Ghosts was haunted as the author shares this memorable day when her mother started out of the door to Tante Zulma
S house and then strolled north along the picturesque tree lined canal. But the chapter titled Amsterdam was hard to read and the subtitled Lies says it all. Next we meet Mina, and we grow to love her and her specific styles and way. Mina her mother arranged us in a narrow room overlooking the street and placid canal beyond. She came to stay with the author and her family two summers after their tip to Holland. The chapter will bring tears to your eyes and truths about what she endured even more.After her trip to Holland the author came to understand that relatives on her mother’s side had been arrested, deported and gassed in the concentration camps and how to do express that and understand it. ordinary words would not fit and strung together and spoken aloud would help her understand the real horrors and consequences behind them. Can you imagine a partial list of names that exhibits showing how kidded in the Holocaust and the lists upon list name after name unforgivable ? Liberation brought harsh realities and her family is a veritable personification of what happened during the war and how so many died. The research, the emails the interaction with family that she finds, and the harsh realities are all related but the most heartbreaking are the pictures of each one of her relatives that died. Flashes back to the past and then diagnosing her mother with Alzheimer’s was unraveling. Then she talks about the war and the bombs falling. Then her mother in 2016 expressed to Leah how much she would like to fancy Come and Go Tea and that chapter really is heartwarming as Leah book the fellowship hall at the Gordon Had United Church where her parents attended. The timeline moves ahead to many unusual places but the most heartbreaking are the pictures of her family included at the end Faces to places is compelling and page 177 explains what happens when Jewish person and other undesirables are brought into the train and more. The picture of Flora and he family on page 179, you can see the sadness in their ryes. Page 181 and page Joseph Kooal on page 186 and the story it tells just from looking at the eyes that are somber and sad yet unfeeling. The same eye expression on page 189 and The Snoak twin’s aunt and uncle at their eyes with no joy as you look at the faces. Then Benjamin Hijman Stella’s father on page 197 you can tell the faraway expression in his eyes and face. Each face is the same and you can feel the pain, the heartache and fear within their eyes as if it were still happening to them and how some had sent into hiding for the remained of the war. The most compelling in page 201 the picture of Louis and Theo’s mother. Flora Stad on page 211 you can see it in her yes and lack of smile and In Plain Sight is sad and enlightening and Generations tells it all about the twins and might bring a smile to your face. The next Faces and Places will bring to light more for her family tree and these were the only ones that she could find of her family’s children, victims of the was killed for the crime of being born to parents or even grandparents, who chose Judaism as their faith. Finally , reflections tie it all together when the author says: How is it possible that we still have a world where a group, any group by the circumstances of geography can consider itself superior and dominate another group? Does where we are born on this planet, which occurs entirely by chance, define us? “ Read the rest . what is so threatening about an alternative view of the world beyond our own?
The final pictures express it all! Told in her voice and allowing us to experience the horrors of the war author Stella Ter Hart created memories that she will always have, family she honored and remembered learning about, and her research opened up many new worlds to her and those that are still here.
I dedicate this review to all those in her family that died because of who they were and to the memory of my grandmother Katie and her sisters who lived it.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews