Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy
The holocaust period certainly brought out the very worst in very many people. However, it also brought out the very best in others, Seren Tuval, in particular. What made this story so listenable and wonderful was Seren's personality. She exhibited such strength, such compassion, such intelligence, and such hope. There was never any question in her mind that she might not survive. There was never a moment that she felt sorry for herself. Her optimism and strength is something for us all to emulate or aspire toward.
The narrator is simply amazing and actually became Seren in my mind. I can't imagine anyone doing a better job of a narration. She nailed it perfectly.
This is a very intense story. Yet, you can come away from it with a good feeling. I am not sure how that can be, but it is true. Don't be afraid to read another holocaust story. This one is very special. For myself, I will remember this book for a long time. I am so glad I got to know Seren's story!
In my top 5
The Unbroken... this too is a true story and is told in a manner that I felt I was right there!
Extremely excellent! Love listening to her!
There are many moments that are moving in the book. This was a time of devastation and the Jews were treated so terribly. It was a cruel and grueling time and this story captivates all that a family went through.
I know that from a politically correct standpoint, I should praise this Holocaust survival memoir. It just isn't as good as others I have read, so for me it was just OK. The author's notes at the end were actually the most interesting part of the whole book.
The story was told with all the horror of the situation and at the same time a feeling of hope. I felt like I was listening to the author telling me what happened over a cup of tea.
She did a great job with voices, there was never any confusion about who was talking.
I have read many, many stories on the holocaust. This story is very touch and I just love Wanda McCaddon's accent. I could wait to listen everyday on my way to work. Highly recommended.
When Lily dies in Seran's arms.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
Not as a true story. This story is too contrived. Overall it's a good emotionally charged read. I just don't believe it as an actual account. I can't find anything about Sara Tuvel Bernstein except as it refers to this book.
Just call it what it is - FICTION! I don't doubt that Ms. Bernstein suffered some oppression at the hands of the Nazi's. I just don't believe that she was the only survivor among millions to have the kind of resolve - and luck - that she claims in this book.
Wanda McCaddon is masterful as always.
Only if you think of it as either fiction or a historical account in which the author has taken considerable literary license. The story IS moving and inspiring - it's just not believable.
I've read all of the reviews both here and on Amazon.com. Only one other reviewer feels like I do. I know I'm going to take a lot of flack for this, but I wish someone had given me a less emotional review of this book. I'm black and I'm used to Jewish friends claiming to "understand the pain of slavery". Well, no! "Your blues ain't like my blues"! But I always read books about Holocaust survivors out of respect for THEIR plight. However, there was something just not right about this account. Sara seemed to always have the answer or solution to some really horrific situations while her reaction to the deaths of her family members, one by one, was like "Ho hum!" I just didn't believe that one person in millions had the survivor instincts that this writer claimed to possess. It's easy to say you've done this and that when there's no one to refute your assertions.
The story is well-written and well narrated. But when you "pull the seams apart", it just doesn't fit. There's no way to fact-check the claims of the author. Plus, she was only in that concentration camp for a few months right before the war ended. I found her account of her early life and the years leading up to her so-called "arrest" much more interesting. Living like a hunted animal with no country to call "home" had to be awful. It's when she gets to the camp and on the trains that the story falls apart. Who can go WEEKS without water while doing back-breaking work? Or eight days without food or water packed into a boxcar like sardines? One minute everyone is freezing to death inside the boxcar, then in the same week, the train is sweltering from the weather outside. While the first 75% of the book tells an interesting account, the last becomes overly dramatic and predictable. And, again, I found Sara's total apathy towards the death of her family and camp friends bordering on sociopathic. Why? Because nobody died like she claims.
Notice that Sara is the only person who repeatedly manages to "save the day" by stealing, smuggling, or hiding enough food for her companions. Under those severe and harrowing circumstances, I know I wouldn't take up with a bunch of losers who never bring anything to the table to help in the survival of the group. When Sara is given a lice-ridden coat in the camp-wide clothing swap, she somehow gets one full of paper money hidden in the lining! And she just happened to have squirreled away a needle and thread in the tightly secured camp so she can rip up the lining to get the money, then sew it back up expertly. Really? As if all of those SS guards were too stupid to notice that the already thin garment just might be a little heavy or bulky! Then she and her friends used the money for TOILET PAPER for several weeks but, again, no one in the camp, prisoners included, noticed them "Benjamins" in the crapper! You haven't wiped your butt in months and that's all you could think to do with a large amount of money? C'mon!
What I DO believe is that some opportunistic writers saw a KERNEL of a good book after meeting a Holocaust survivor, likely in her dotage. I thought this book would be a first-hand account by an actual survivor who had gone through one horrific act after another during World War II as a Jew in occupied Europe. It turned out to be a compilation of everything that could happen to several people in a "perfect storm" of terror and persecution. Kind of like "Forrest Gump Meets The Fuhrer"! There's something that just didn't pass the "smell test" for me. I almost didn't write a review because I knew others would be upset with my reaction to this book or they would say, being black, I just don't understand the plight of Jewish people. That's absolutely not true. I sympathize and empathize with the hatred endured by Jews THROUGHOUT the history of the world. How could I not when my own ancestors were oppressed, murdered, beaten, lynched, and raped for centuries as recently as the 21st century? Here, I'll just have to take the hit because I'm calling "a spade a spade" - Sara is "shoveling" it a bit deep!
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How many books like this have I read? They are always good. Human resilience is amazing… and sadly, so is cruelty.
This recollection of suffering and surviving through hard times was just as riveting as the others, and therefore another must-read.
This is one of the best audio books that I have listened to. The narrator portrays the characters believably.
It is a story of the Holocaust, so that being said, many stories have been written about this horrendous time in history. But, it is told in a way so that your very soul is crying out for the injustices that these people had to face.
The main character, Sara, was portrayed with authenticity.
Truly an amazing story of survival, not what I expected in a holocaust book. I feel honored and grateful to have read this true life account of Sara Tuvel's heroic life.
I'm not sure the narrator could've been better because her delivery made the story quite enjoyable.
Obviously Sara sticks out as it's her story but each person added a depth to the book that I appreciated.
Her commitment to accents and emotional delivery
Gah!... It's a recollection of the events surrounding the Holocaust in Hungary. Most moments were moving.
While I appreciated what the intro and Epilogue had to say about Sara, I could have just as easily gone without it and the additional hour which is why, Overall, I marked the book as 4 stars.