Title: We Were The Lucky Ones
Author: Georgia Hunter
Publisher: Allison & Busby
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 is a difficult but also an absorbing and very well written (and researched) novel.
Focusing on a Jewish Polish family, the at the outbreak of, and during, World War 2, it really drives home the horrendous plight of people who were persecuted during this time, losing their belongings, jobs, homes and families. The novel is split into various parts as the family itself begins to split up (I really like novels with different narrative strands), and there are some periods where we hear nothing from characters, so naturally the reader is inclined to wonder if they are OK or even still alive. This really adds to the sense of bewilderment and confusion, echoing what the family must be going through.
The characters cover many continents and countries, from Paris to Brazil, and I loved reading about their experiences in different places. There were times when I felt really frustrated because we would leave a character at a certain point – often a quite dramatic point – and then rejoin them later in the book, but a large period of time would have passed meaning the tension or drama would have subsided, and we’d infer what must have happened in between. I’d have liked to have read what exactly occurred, but I know the book covers a long period of time and therefore not every incidence can be described in full. However the level of detail included, during the times that were included, can be very touching. Some parts of the novel are incredibly shocking and really stayed with me after I finished reading the book, whilst and other parts remind us just what a normal family this actually is – just like any of us.
We know this persecution and genocide affected millions of Jews, but knowing that this is based on a true story – that the author researched her own family history to find this – just reinforces the shocking nature of the book. I won’t give away how the story ends but it’s certainly an amazing story of survival and keeping hope against all odds. Definitely recommended – what a powerful novel!
Many thanks to Allison & Busby for providing a copy of this novel, on which I chose to wrote an honest and unbiased review.
We Were The Lucky Ones will be published in the UK on 14 February 2017.