Elaine's Reviews > The Pages In Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One Home

The Pages In Between by Erin Einhorn
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's review
Nov 13, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: book-clubs
Read in November, 2008

What an unusual "holocaust" book. This one is not the story of a holocaust survivor. Rather, it's the story of her daughter's journey to learn more about her mother's story. Erin moves to Poland for a year to try to learn more about her mother's time during the war, when she was cared for by a Polish woman. She learns that although her grandfather deeded use of the home he had to abandon to his daughter's caretaker, the now-deceased caretaker's family is less than happy with the current situation.

Erin learns details of her family history, and tries to come to terms with a Poland that is almost devoid of Jewish residents but which is fascinated by Jews and Judaica. She tries to balance preserved Auschwitz with real-life Polish towns and cities that have moved past the war. Her mother's caretaker's family welcomes her, but then pesters her relentlessly to take care of the real estate situation. Are they horrible people? Jew haters? She's not sure what to make of them.

So this is really the story of Erin's attempt to reconcile the sadness and horror that are her family's history with the need to move beyond. Although the ending felt a little hurried, there are passages where she gives the reader the ability to see from her (constantly shifting) perspective. One passage that I found especially moving is the following. Erin has found some documentation of her great-uncle's wedding when some of the family who had already moved to the US went back to Poland to celebrate:

"It was difficult to imagine them on December 31, 1938 . . . and not see the celebrants as stupidly doomed, like climbers on the summit of Everest, oblivious to the storm below, laughing and snapping pictures. I wanted to reach back through the years and shout at them: "You fools! Stop dancing! Get out! . . . " Standing on this end of the time line, trying to see back through the decades, through the nineties, the eighties, the seventies, the sixties, the fifties, the fire and fury that scorched through the blistering forties, it was impossible to see them clearly beyond the smoke, beyond the blood and the horror . . . ."

A really fascinating read. (When the author was struggling with this story -- she's a journalist -- she submitted it as an idea to Ira Glass' "This American Life". Here's a link to that story: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio...

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Miriam (new)

Miriam This looks good. I read a really good book on a similar topic last year - "the Lost" by Daniel Mendlesohn that I couldn't put down.

message 2: by Kelly (new)

Kelly This does sound good and I would love to read it too.

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