We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
From the jazz clubs of Paris and Kraków’s most brutal prison, to the ports of Northern Africa and the farthest reaches of the Siberian gulag, We Were the Lucky Ones expresses how in the darkest of times the human spirit can find a way to survive, and even triumph.
This novel centres around the Kurc family and their journey through WW2, focusing specifically on the lives of the 5 siblings. I am one of 8 children, I have 5 brothers and 2 sisters. We are very close and anything emotionally difficult we have had to endure in life, is always made easier via their comfort and words. So for me on a personal level, the bond between the siblings and their love and hope for one another really resonated off the page. I found the characterisation to be very realistic and it did not surprise me to discover the novel is fictionalised on the authors own ancestry, the author has done a phenomenal job, with this debut novel!
The Kurc siblings are made up of Addy, Jakob, Mila, Genek and Halina. They are in various territories in Europe that are occupied by the Nazi’s. The novel is their story of survival under a fascist regime, that has declared them the enemy. The writing of Addy’s last Passover meal, felt extremely moving and symbolic of what he would go onto suffer.
The novel is scattered with facts and I felt this really brought home the authenticity of the history. This really happened, to these people and Nazi Germany and the horrors of fascism should never be forgotten……. The novel is broken into three parts. With part one being set, as war looms, what will happen? What will become of the Kurc family? Part two follows the persecution of the Jewish people and how this was carried out. Finally part three focuses on the individuals in the aftermath of WW2.
The consistent fear, degradation, humiliation and dehumanization is very clear in all of their stories. At one point the families father Sol whispers to the mother Nechuma “do not lose faith” how do you retain faith, when all around you, is death and the destruction of everything you have ever known? The journey from citizen, to enemy and eventually ‘displaced persons’ is thoroughly explored. The title of this novel ‘We Were The Lucky Ones’ is possibly the most significant and poignant title I have ever known a book to have.
A compelling read, 4*