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After Long Silence

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,455 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
"To this day, I don't even know what my mother's real name is."

Helen Fremont was raised as a Roman Catholic. It wasn't until she was an adult, practicing law in Boston, that she discovered her parents were Jewish--Holocaust survivors living invented lives. Not even their names were their own. In this powerful memoir, Helen Fremont delves into the secrets that held her fami
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 11th 2000 by Delta (first published 1999)
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Sheri I'm assuming it's a memoir/autobiography as it's the story of the author's life.

Community Reviews

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Dec 23, 2007 Shaindel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: nonfiction/Holocaust/Jewish
This may be the first memoir I've ever made it through because I'm NOT a fan of nonfiction. (If life were so interesting, why would we need to make stuff up?). I read this book b/c Helen Fremont is a friend of a friend and was a guest writer giving a reading at the community college where I taught at the time. This book is a beautifully told story paralelling Fremont's discovery that her family was covering up their Jewish identity after the Holocaust, which prompts her to come out of the closet ...more
Feb 09, 2014 Charlie rated it really liked it
Helen and Lara Fremont were raised as Roman Catholics ----- really? Their mom and dad lived in Poland during WW11 and came to America shortly after the war. Simple story? COMPLICATED !!!
During their childhood days the sisters started to have questions about who they were - who are our parents? Things were not making sense when confronting the parents about their past. Helen was determend to figure it ALL out one way or another.
This story, a memoir, has twists and turns that are mind boggling. I
May 02, 2009 Alison rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I wish I could rate this 4.5. I devoured this book. I'm not usually one to stay up all night reading, but I almost did it with this one (early meetings are the only thing that stopped me). Part of it was Fremont's subject-matter: finding out as an adult that her family history is not at all what she thought it was. But a lot of my praise for this book comes from Fremont's writing style, which blends her own stories of finding out about her family history, to narratives about her parents themselv ...more
Aug 26, 2014 Nick rated it it was amazing
An absolutely stunning story. The authors quest to understand her family's story & history takes everyone on an incredible journey. What her parents went through, and how they survived is shocking. And the secrets they kept for 50+ years are even more unbelievable. Anyone with an interest in genealogy or the horrors of WWII should read this. In fact, this book should be purchased and sit on your bookshelf along side of 'The Diary of Anne Frank' & 'Night', because this story is as profoun ...more
John McKelvie
Jun 05, 2010 John McKelvie rated it really liked it
Daughters research their Jewish history after learning that parents hid their identity to escape the holocaust and Soviets. Juxtaposes the daughters' lives with the horrors of their parents' lives. Though the book doesn't fully explore the issue, the author raises an interesting question about right to know parents history and to bring back to them memories they want to forget.
Apr 10, 2017 Jenni rated it liked it
Maybe 3.5 stars.

It's tough for me to give an account about survivors of the Holocaust anything less than five stars, but this wasn't a favorite read and at times I found it boring and a bit laborious to get through. Still, this was a poignant story of the author's parents' survival during the Holocaust after the author discovered her Jewish roots, which her parents had kept secret.

While it was touching and interesting, the book bounced between characters and time periods, and because her parent
Feb 22, 2011 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Best of all worlds!
1 - A fascinating account of a dramatic time in our history
2 - Written in an intriguing (but clear and logical) back-and-forth-through-history manner
3 - Written with a love of the language - bright, stylish, with each figure of speech perfectly matching the action and emotion of the moment.

Three favorite passages:
(pg 209-210) Enemies were always available in all my games of war. They were lurking in the bushes, surrounding the house, creeping under the barbed wire across the
Feb 06, 2011 Jan rated it it was ok
Helen and her sister Lara had always known there were things their parents wouldn't discuss about their past. Their parents barely escaped WWII Europe with their lives -- their mother from Poland, and their father from grueling years in a Siberian gulag.

Years later, raised as Polish Catholics in the U.S., Helen and Lara start to ask more questions about their parents' experiences in Europe during the war. The parents' cheerful but persistent subject-changing makes the girls wonder what is being
magine being raised as Mid-western, pseudo-religious Catholic, only to learn that your parents are in fact, Polish Jews, and survivors of the Holocaust to boot. Imagine that, and you'll have some idea of what Helen Fremont went through.

After Long Silence is a memoir in several parts, jumping between Fremont's childhood, where she wondered about her father's experiences in a gulag that left him with a permanently damaged arm, and learned to say "Hail Mary" in six different languages from her moth
Aug 21, 2008 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographical
Publisher's Description:

"To this day, I don't even know what my mother's real name is."

"Helen Fremont was raised as a Roman Catholic. It wasn't until she was an adult, practicing law in Boston, that she discovered her parents were Jewish—Holocaust survivors living invented lives. Not even their names were their own. In this powerful memoir, Helen Fremont delves into the secrets that held her family in a bond of silence for more than four decades, recounting with heartbreaking clarity a remarkabl
Sep 28, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
"After Long Silence," a work of nonfiction, follows the story of two sisters who unravel the mystery of their parents' pasts in Europe during World War II. Fremont tells this story with the energy of discovery yet also with a self-awareness that maybe she is uncovering truths that might be better to let lie. Her father spent two years in a Soviet prison in Siberia, surviving on his wits and guts alone. Her mother and aunt (sisters) survived the war by taking on new identities as Italian Catholic ...more
Mar 18, 2008 Elena rated it really liked it
I picked this book-on-CD up at the library, because it was on the shelf and I needed something to listen to in the car. I didn't have high expectations for this book, but was in for a big pleasant surprise. It is a literary memoir of a daughter of the Holocaust survivor, who was raised to believe that she and her family were Catholic, when in fact her roots ran deep into her Jewish family tree. She and her sister didn't discover their true "identity" until both were adults. It is beautifully wri ...more
Nov 24, 2010 Laurie rated it really liked it
This is the exact kind of book that I like to read: non-fiction, a memoir, and decent writing. The author chronicles her parents "secret" past as Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. The book jacket misleads the prospective reader into believing this woman had no idea of what her parents went through in the war - when she really was mainly unaware that they were Jewish - she had grown up hearing constantly of stories from the War. But of course it is incredibly shocking that Ms. Fremont did not le ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Pamela rated it really liked it
Shelves: holocaust
Excellent book! I truly enjoyed reading Helen Fremont's quest to find the truth about her parents' lives. Her mother survives their ordeals of being Jews in Poland when Hitler was at his height by pretending to be Catholic . . . which is understandable, but why did she choose to keep up the facade for over 50 years? Her father escaped a Russian gulag to also hide under the veil of Catholicism. Her quest for answers uncovers some truths, but some questions are not completely answered. The reader- ...more
Aug 22, 2011 Natasha rated it really liked it
As an adult, Helen Fremont learns that her family are not Roman Catholics but actually Jews. Her parents survived the holocaust and raised their children outside their faith to ensure that they were never persecuted. She mentions being taught the Lords Prayer in several languages so she would always be able to "prove" her Christianity. This was a compulsively readable book. I found I could not put it down. I even stood at the stove cooking with it in my hand. Her parent's past saddened me and I ...more
Jun 08, 2011 J.C. rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A good memoir but take it with a grain of salt. The subjects in the book (her parents) were less than willing subjects and and suffered such mental trauma that memories are sketchy at best. The real problem with this book is its style. This book is full of similes and metaphors that make little sense and throws off the rhythm of the story telling, the chronology is all over the place and sometimes there are tangents that don't fit the story. What's great about this book is the story itself, if t ...more
Oct 27, 2009 Dana rated it liked it
The strongest part of this book is Fremont's narrative: the process of uncovering her family's story, and the fascinating and unusual story itself. The book is well-written, with some truly lovely passages. At times, though, it seems to get tangled up in itself: metaphors sound pretty but on second glance don't fully make sense; descriptions don't always contribute to the narrative but instead seem self-fulfilling.

Still, it's very worth reading for its main accomplishment: a new angle on Holocau
Mar 01, 2009 Janet rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful, well-written, fascinating book. Yes, its about the Holocaust but from a different angle. The authors parents raised their daughters as Catholics. As an adult, she accidentally found out that her parents were Jewish holocaust survivors. Confronting her elderly parents, dealing with the secrecy herself, trying to understand why they kept their past such a secret .....just so interesting and thought provoking. Well worth the read.
Sep 24, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, memoir
I don't know where I heard of this book and don't even remember reserving it at the library, but I picked it up yesterday and I'm riveted. The author is raised a Catholic child of Polish immigrants that escaped WWII, but finds out as an adult that both of her parents are Jewish and that their entire families were killed in the holocaust. Putting together her parents past with the author is powerful.
Jul 24, 2009 Jcurtis rated it it was amazing
A haunting memoir about a couple who endured and survived the Holocaust, then lived to deny their Judaism and rear their daughters as Catholics. Their story is an excellent reminder that we each have to find our own way of surviving and coping, and the way we choose may not be the right way for another.
Evangeline Alva
Aug 10, 2010 Evangeline Alva rated it it was amazing
I was 12 at the time, and I absolultely loved the book. It gives a very detailed, horrifying, and attention-engagin account of the holocaut. Maybe it's because i love horrifying truths and history, but I remember being in love with the book, and then in a state of depression for the sadness of the characters later.
Jan 05, 2009 Michelle rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Terri Licopoli, Paula Feely
A woman who was raised Catholic begins to suspect that her family is really Jewish. Turns out her parents are Polish Jews that survived the holocaust by changing their identities. Her father survived 6 years in a Russian Gulag in Siberia. Book tells of how the holocaust continues to affect the next generation. Fascintating read, drew me in right away.
Dec 30, 2008 Dana rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down! In fact, I read it twice. It is such an interesting story - and it's true - about a woman learning in her 30s that her family is Jewish. So many things to think about regarding a person's identity.
Feb 15, 2015 Naomi rated it really liked it
A frank and well-crafted journey of a woman's discovery of herself, her family, and her secret history. Her writing is extremely accessible; I felt as if I were sitting in my kitchen over a cup of tea with the author.
Renee Sustarich
Aug 04, 2011 Renee Sustarich rated it really liked it
Very touching memoir. Amazing how she found out so much and in the process found her self in the end. Felt bad that her parents had to hide all that happened but it is an inspiration to those with a story to tell.
Jun 25, 2009 Elaine rated it it was amazing
Silence is the attempt of Holocaust survivors to protect their children from their Jewish inheritance by raising them as Catholics. This non-fiction book is the story of how one of those children dug out the truth from her family. It was well written.
Gudrun Mouw
Oct 02, 2016 Gudrun Mouw rated it really liked it
I was delighted with the use of poetic language and also loved the sincerity of the story. There was a lot of tenderness in this memoir and, surprisingly, it read a bit like a mystery.
Ali Bailey
Mar 06, 2009 Ali Bailey rated it really liked it
I really like this book, so much so that I will pick it up every now and again and re-read it. The author tells an amazing story of her parents during war time. A great memoir.
Oct 02, 2014 Beth rated it it was amazing
Fascinating story about a child of Holocaust survivors who had concealed their Jewish identity even from their children. Beautifully written and wonderfully introspective.
Leslie Peterson
Feb 17, 2013 Leslie Peterson rated it really liked it
Her father's story was fascinating.
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“We were opposites in every way until we grew up, left home, and discovered we were more alike than we'd thought. Sisters only get to be opposites within the family; separated by the world, they become practically identical.” 31 likes
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