• Life in a Jar

  • By: Jack Mayer
  • Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
  • Length: 14 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (388 ratings)

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Life in a Jar

By: Jack Mayer
Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
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Publisher's Summary

During World War II, Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker, organized a rescue network of fellow social workers to save 2,500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto. Incredibly, after the war her heroism, like that of many others, was suppressed by communist Poland and remained virtually unknown for 60 years. Unknown, that is, until three high school girls from an economically depressed, rural school district in southeast Kansas stumbled upon a tantalizing reference to Sendler's rescues, which they fashioned into a history project, a play they called Life in a Jar. Their innocent drama was first seen in Kansas, then the Midwest, then New York, Los Angeles, Montreal and finally Poland, where they elevated Irena Sendler to a national hero, championing her legacy of tolerance and respect for all people.

Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project is a Holocaust history and more. It is the inspirational story of Protestant students from Kansas, each called in her own complex way to the history of a Catholic woman who knocked on Jewish doors in the Warsaw ghetto and, in Sendler's own words, "tried to talk the mothers out of their children".

©2011 Jack Mayer (P)2015 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"A gripping real-life tale of extraordinary courage that had an enduring impact." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about Life in a Jar

Average Customer Ratings
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Love of neighbor

One of the most moving accounts of the Holocaust I have ever read and I have read hundreds of books about survivors of the Holocaust. This books is an inspiration of what one person who steps up can do to save the world. Don't ever say, "I am just one person, what can I do".

9 people found this helpful

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Great book almost ruined by a bad narrator

I really loved the story of the Irena Sendler Project and Irena herself. It was compelling, suspenseful, and heartwarming. However, I almost stopped listening because of the narrator. The voices he used for the characters were horrible - he made all of the women sound whiny, those with Polish accents sounded like Boris Badenov (from Bullwinkle), and on and on. I would recommend reading this book - I have a long commute so I stuck with the audiobook version, but I was constantly wincing at the way it was read.

7 people found this helpful

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Great book. but Narrator killed it for me

I tried twice listening to this book. and I just couldn't continue. The narrator is so poorly matched with this book. He might do fabulously with other books, but his performance and portrayal of the characters in this book was shallow and rushed. I couldn't feel or align myself with any character. By chapter 4 I felt like I was listening to nails on a chalkboard. I have over 250 books in my library, so I have a bit of experience to pull from. I think this is one book I'm going to purchase old school.and read via print....

5 people found this helpful

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Fantastic Book

This is one of the most uplifting books I have ever read...and I have read a lot. I recommend this to everyone. This is one of my top ten books. Lawlor is likely the best narrator I have listened to. His ability to accurately use tones, accents, and speak in a manner of the subject is impressive...have not heard anyone match him. Makes a good book better.

4 people found this helpful

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Do not waste a credit on this book

Would you try another book from Jack Mayer and/or Patrick Lawlor?

Narrator Patrick Lawlor, will NOT be a narrator I will ever listen to again. I believe he destroyed the story.I requested this book several times before Audible finally made it available. I wish I had just read the book. The narrator PATRICK LAWLOR, completely ruined this very important book. The subject matter, The Holocaust, deserved a better narrator. Patrick Lawlor read as if it were Rod Sterling reading the Periodic Table. I had to stop listening on many occasions, because his voice was so boring, or when trying to read as a female, he sounded completely ridiculous. I don't understand why, after writing and researching such a tremendous subject, the author would allow his work to be so overshadowed by such horrible narration. Sentences were often run together, and read so fast, all emotion was lost. This subject matter was too crucial to this story to allow such a horrible reader. I truly believe I would have been drawn into the story had it been read with more feeling, so I urge any listener to purchase the book and read it yourself.

What other book might you compare Life in a Jar to and why?

Schindler's List

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He completely lost the emotion, and suffering written about in this book. He could not read the voices, which were mostly women, completely distracting from the story line.

Do you think Life in a Jar needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No, any further research can be done individually.

Any additional comments?

A horrific story of the Holocaust and one womans struggle to save Jewish children .This story deserves, and needs to be told, however, as I have written, not by this poor narrator.

4 people found this helpful

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Saving children's lives during the Holocaust

What is so fascinating is that these high school students did all this research on her life in the late 1990's and the Holocaust museum in Washington DC did not even have this information on her life. We visited the Holocaust museum in Washington DC in November 2018 and I had a marvelous discussion with the clerk in the bookstore about the resources they now had.
Irena Sendler was a social worker during the time Hitler invaded Poland. She would go into the ghetto where the Jews were held and work gained the trust of the parents to take the children to safety knowing the parents would be murdered in a concentration camp. She organized non-Jewish families to take these Jewish children until after the war. She documented all children's parents and families in canning jars and they were buried in her friend's backyard under an apple tree.
There is also a Hallmark movie on her life, THE COURAGEOUS HEART OF IRENA SENDLER. A PBS documentary of her life, IRENA SENDLER IN THE NAME OF THEIR MOTHERS: OUTWITTING THE NAZIS TO SAVE THOUSANDS OF JEWISH CHILDREN.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing story.

Struggled with the horror and sadness but in comparison to those who lived the story my struggle was negligible.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing!

This book was well written and informative. I wish I was still teaching. Life in a Jar would make a great bookti use for an integrated unit.

1 person found this helpful

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I loved the book!

I loved the book, multiple stories, great movement, present to past, then meshed. Hate the fact the situation was truly history. Through much of the book I saw how a wonderful motion picture could be made. It would need Polish production and direction, and distinguished talent.

Read this book for a Book Club meeting in Mexico with members from several countries and religions.

1 person found this helpful

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3 Kansas teens rescue the rescuer of 2500 in WW2

This is the very compelling story of "Theee Protestant girls from rural Kansas rescuing the story of a Catholic social worker from Poland who rescued 2500Jewish children from the Nazis."

I have read a great deal of WW2 history, with one of my niches being the Warsaw ghetto, so I have read about Irena Sendler, but this has gripped and moved me like none of the others. Why? I can only surmise that it's because I'm seeing the story through these young girls' fresh eyes, their awe, their personal pain. It is also a more personal meeting, as it were, of Irena herself.

It stands out as one of the best of the genre. As much as I wonder if I am getting desensitized to the atrocities, I found myself teary more through this book than any in a long time -- but not because of the atrocities, but because of the moments abounding in human kindness, in mercy, courage, goodness, gratitude, and love.

Not all "coming of age" stories are sexual in nature; this is one of character, moral courage, values. Repeated is the question: "Why did she do it?" It was because her father had impressed on her that there are only two kinds of people: good ones and bad ones, irregardless of, race, religion, socioeconomic status. And "If someone is drowning, he needs rescuing."

That led to the other questions: "What would I have done?" and "What would I do?"

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jacky
  • 02-08-22

incredible true story compelling informative

Oh my word what an incredible true life story, what a courageous lady and the people who helped her in war torn Poland in WW2, so emotional, I cried and smiled in places, what incredible young girls to take the history and research of this amazing woman Irena Sendler I was so pleased that they got to meet her and talk to her, an incredible book, narration was amazing too helped set the scenes so well

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  • Beata
  • 09-20-17

the need of a heart

Amazing story about extraordinary brave woman and the need of her heart. I strongly recommend it.

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  • miss lj lawley
  • 11-20-15

Life in a Jar - The Irena Sendler story is as I thought it would be an amazingly touching story of many brave people during WWII

A moving story brought about by a history project in Kansas USA. The second part of the story takes you through day to day life of occupied Poland and the daily struggles of the people of Warsaw in particular the segregated Jewish community in the infamous Warsaw Ghetto. I will share this book and its facts with my children so future generations learn from the mistakes made during this awful time. A book about human courage and the need for tolerance. The world needs more people like Irena Sendler.