It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer.
The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable, and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.
As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working gruelling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the 20th century's darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.
What members say
- Cait Guyette
Amazing story disserviced by writing
I feel bad giving this a low-ish rating as it is an amazing and true story and its outcome is very welcome, but in the writing it is often lacking.
The title alone removes most suspense in how the story will turn out. It’s hard to get emotionally invested in a story when you already know the outcome.
Each chapter bounces from one part of the family to another, and while I liked that it kept all the timelines even, every chapter I had to remind myself who these characters were again and where they were, both geographically and in terms of the bigger story. Because you are following all branches of the Kurc family you are detached from feeling the anxiety the characters feel about what has happened to everyone. I think it would have been beneficial to hold Addy’s updates from the moment he gets his draft notice until a chapter after V-E Day, so the reader, too, could feel the elation of finding him alive.
The prose is very journalistic and could do with a major infusion of emotion. The book feels more like a nonfiction account than a terrifying and heroic dramatisation of her family’s history. I felt I was drawing more on my past Holocaust sources (Schindler’s List, etc.) to paint a picture in my mind because of a lack of detail and feeling. There are parts that are truly horrific and terrifying and read like a to-do list.
I also didn’t like the implication I felt that the family survived because they took chances. Yes, they did take chances and survived. And perhaps others would have survived if they had taken different chances, too. But that is not why others died. They died because of evil people. Many people took destiny in their hands and died because of it. We need to remember it was not Jews’ actions that caused their genocide but the actions of Nazis and those that allowed them to perpetrate their evil plans. That’s why Felicia says they were “the lucky ones.”
I had such expectations for this audio Searched for it for ages expecting it to be similar to All the Light and The Nightingale but was slightly disappointed It's a decent story but not quite same league as others