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After Long Silence: A Memoir

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“Fascinating . . . A tragic saga, but at the same time it often reads like a thriller filled with acts of extraordinary courage, descriptions of dangerous journeys and a series of secret identities.” — Chicago Tribune

“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 remarkable tale of survival, as vivid as fiction but with the resonance of truth.

Driven to uncover their roots, Fremont and her sister pieced together an astonishing story: of Siberian Gulags and Italian royalty, of concentration camps and buried lives. After Long Silence is about the devastating price of hiding the truth; about families; about the steps we take, foolish or wise, to protect ourselves and our loved ones. No one who reads this book can be unmoved, or fail to understand the seductive, damaging power of secrets.

Praise for After Long Silence

“Poignant . . . affecting . . . part detective story, part literary memoir, part imagined past.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Riveting . . . painfully authentic . . . a poignant memoir, a labor of love for the parents she never really knew.” — The Boston Globe

“Mesmerizing . . . Fremont has accomplished something that seems close to impossible. She has made a fresh and worthy contribution to the vast literature of the Holocaust.” — The Washington Post Book World

368 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1999

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Helen Fremont

2 books51 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 359 reviews
Profile Image for Jan Rice.
523 reviews445 followers
May 21, 2020
“When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished'*--Czeslaw Milosz.

*And, I might add, if the family isn't finished, then the writer is.”

Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure

The writer Helen Fremont is not finished, but I got the feeling, from the book review for its sequel (from which I found out about this one), that her family is giving her a run for the money. That is what I learned a little more about from this book. I think I'll read that sequel as well, in hopes of wielding it against grains of unfinished familial business, dormant but recurrent irritants, in hopes the light will catch and kill them.

She's such a good writer and shiner of light!

She and her sister were raised as Roman Catholic, and that's what she thought they were. It could have been a clue that they never went to confession or took Communion -- but only if it came to their attention. They were children and that's what their family did; how would they know any different? They went to church, but sat on the last row and left early.

The parents were Jewish holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe who got stuck in their escape modes. Apparently they socialized with other such immigrants who accepted the ruse. Her parents' stories had hardened onto them in the kiln of trauma.

When telling those stories, the author frequently calls her parents "my mother," "Mom," or "Dad," as in, "My mother was ten at the time," or, "...in August of 1935 when my mother was still in high school...," or, "Behind her, Mom heard her mother fussing with the tea on the stove." Looking back, I see she does sometimes calls them by their first names, too, but those retrojected parental titles are startling.

She and her sister searched for the truth and confronted the parents, who absorbed it up to a point but were always saying "Don't tell (Aunt) Zosia." It was Zosia's eventual reaction that brought home to me that they could not bend.

I know we should love others like we love ourselves, but I forget. I think people are being like they are just to be annoying or mean, but usually they're not. They're stuck, too.

Note on the National Emergency Library
Right now, this book is available digitally in the National Emergency Library, meaning you can take a look at it or borrow it for free (the one by Fremont). Loans are for two weeks, and you can renew, no queues.

The Internet Archive received kudos when it turned itself into the National Emergency Library for the duration. But soon, it received blame, too. Some authors complained of piracy, saying readers wouldn't purchase an e-copy of their older books if they could get it free. Authors can request that their books be removed from the National Emergency Library. For me the competition is with used books. I much prefer a "real" book to any e-version. Not everybody can get one, though, and a lot of library systems are closed. Anybody anywhere can use the National Emergency Library, and some authors have requested for their books to be included.
Profile Image for Shaindel.
Author 7 books246 followers
December 24, 2007
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 to them--the dynamics of honesty, secrecy, family, etc., are very powerful.

Fremont sacrificed a lot to tell this story. Think about it--if your family were hiding a secret for *decades* and you wrote a memoir about, that would take guts, wouldn't it? Fremont is an excellent writer and a terrific person. When she's not teaching at the Harvard summer writers' institute, she's a public defender (not a glamourous life). Maybe it's not what everyone expects in their Goodreads reviews, but I think a writer being a good human being is worth a bonus star :-)
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,275 reviews558 followers
December 20, 2017
At times while reading this story, I wondered at any of the actual verity of facts. It's not that I refused to believe this woman lawyer. Or that I mistrust that she did not believe and desire to tell the entire truth. It is just that I think the people who told it to her all had such emotional mental disability of after effect cognition that each and every detail needs to be taken with a "grain of salt" as to any context accuracy.

Even within the era and placements of these events that Helen Fremont remembers as real and actual? Like her summer camp experience with not having to go to Mass on Sunday etc. All of that just wouldn't have played as Catholic then. (As it is posited that her Mother and herself too understood any of the context to that dictate or camp's "rules".) So I don't even understand how they could have self-identified at all in the way her Mother did and taught her to react. Not for any cover or purposes as her mother equated with success for it "working". It's not only illogical but it's revealing to any who would have heard those kinds of "explanations" at that time. That would have raised more questions toward going forward with any approval for permissions. You just couldn't "get permission" for missing Church every week like that or in that manner of determining that parental dictate yourself re Mass. It HAD to be questioned and addressed to the "why" part- far more than this report describes as final answer. And it would have. Do I know it.

It's a story worth telling and one to absolutely tell. But I don't think it was told well. And yet told as well as it could be by those who couldn't bear to truly remember? So much of this copy is told either out of sequence or at tangents to any core of the tale. Filler almost. Very poor, 2 star in construction itself.

It sounds like the trauma involved was ever lasting and too dire to circumvent. Possibly even unto the next generation for all the blank spots and silences. And furtive family minutia that did not make sense to other than permanent identity "damage" is dominate here.

Actually when it was all said and done, I would have MUCH rather read her Dad's autobiography including the years in Siberia that he completed before he passed which ended in 1958. He seemed to be able to witness in a higher degree and with more personal "eyes".

But if you want to read about outcomes from Polish WWII era atrocities and village occurrence aftermath for the few Jewish survivors in another century, this IS a book to choose. The problem is that you will only get it 2nd or 3rd hand while the original "eyes" are too punctured to relate it.
Profile Image for Charlie.
348 reviews21 followers
February 19, 2014
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. It is powerful and painful all in the same breath. Everytime you feel the story should end it starts all over again with new information of their past.
This book is a true story. AND Helen does a masterful job in writting such a complicated history of their family.
Profile Image for J.C..
986 reviews15 followers
June 13, 2011
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 true then it is a fantastic story of love, loss, secrets and family. If it isn't true then it was a pretty good novel...
Profile Image for Doreen Petersen.
719 reviews110 followers
June 17, 2020
An excellent read of the long lasting impact of WWII. I would definitely recommend this one!
Profile Image for Mary K.
475 reviews21 followers
August 27, 2022
Absolutely stunning in every way. How did this book sit on my shelf unread for so long? It’s now among my shelf of lifetime favorites. The story of how this author’s parents survived the war is incredible and captivating at every turn. The author’s story of how she unravels the family’s secrets and how they react is riveting. The writing is gorgeous. I’m getting ready to order her next book!
10 reviews
March 7, 2011
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 stand of fir trees at the corner of the woods. Enemies could always be conjured up, to fulfill the requirements of life, to offer the opportunity for bravery, heroism, and superiority. Without enemies, I was nothing."

(pg 274) He kept looking for the old Batya, the Batya he'd dreamed of for the past six year; he kept hoping to come upon her in an unprotected moment, picking buttercups by the river or daydreaming in the sun. But this Maria didn't care for flowers and didn't daydream. She worked, saved money, and scouted the coast for an opportunity, a ledge on which to climb. She did not look back but moved forward with a joyless, energetic will. It frightened him to see how much she had become like him, how much they had in common. He tried to gather all their lost potential, wrap it quickly in a bundle, and present it to her like a bouquet of wildflowers. But she was already two steps ahead of him, plucking the petals and making jam, stripping the stalks and building a future.

(pg 316) Perhaps the war had not changed them so much as selected their strengths, reinforced them, and made them rigid . . . My father, white-haired and clear-eyed, with deep lines carved into his face, had learned to live by trusting no one. He would never let his guard down, sacrificing his connection to others for safety. And my mother had survived by dancing from one foot to the other, spinning and twirling her way out of danger.

What did I learn? Perhaps that faith - faith in something true, real, powerful, and glorious - is more important than survival. Survival gained by denying faith, forgetting family, sacrificing friendship is perhaps more painful than death.

I've also learned, by trying the same tactics as the author, that I cannot become closer to my parents by attempting to reproduce their hardships and sacrifices in my own life. It may seem a touching tribute, but in the end it's an insulting trivialization.
492 reviews7 followers
February 6, 2011
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 concealed, and they start to search and ask questions of other people who knew their parents during the war. Soon they begin to realize that their parents actually were Jews, disguised as Catholics in order to save their lives. Yet, unlike other similar stories, the Buchmans clung to their frail religious facade as though Hitler were still alive and could yet order their extermination.

The process of the girls' digging and poking and questioning, ripping off the curtains that had concealed 50-year-old horrors, is painful for the Buchman parents, who had buried the memories and never wanted to think of them again. Some of the things that they had had to do to survive were truly horrifying, and others deeply humiliating. Why would the girls want to torture their elderly parents by discovering and discussing - much less publishing - what their parents obviously did not want revealed?

The answer probably partially lies in the second, parallel story of the book -- Helen's eventual pulling back of the curtains and revealing her own homosexuality. Perhaps she felt that by exposing her own private life, she had the right to expose the private lives of her parents.

Whatever the reason, the reader is left with conflicting feelings. One is glad that the girls know their Jewish heritage, but their relentless pursuit of private, embarassing details just seems cruel. Some of the book could not be documented, and could indeed be fiction, although presented as fact. Obviously Helen wanted to come out of the closet, but her elderly parents did NOT want to be outed from their concealed transgressions. Not only did Helen discover her parents' humiliating secrets, but by publishing this book, she broadcast them to the world. As another reviewer said, "She and her sister were raised to be successful, literate individuals by mere mortals who had been to hell and back.. What more can anyone ask?" Indeed. Why ask or expect more?
Profile Image for Natasha.
40 reviews2 followers
August 22, 2011
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 was troubled by how much pain they went through telling their tales. To me it really brought to life the terror of the holocaust. There are so many good discussions to be had about this book.
Profile Image for John McKelvie.
17 reviews
June 5, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Gina Ulicny.
179 reviews2 followers
May 16, 2020
5 . Really a 9.9 because of what the story is about and all the messages of the layering of harm that secrets create. This underlying man-inflicted fear is diabolical, and it seeps into the most mundane aspects of daily life. Heart breaking, yet hope is never lost as love is written on most every page.

The physical, mental and emotional evil that so many people endured; and even more so those who inflicted it, and stood by and allowed it. A stain on humanity like no other. And the shame was so great that most everyone swept their horrid secrets of the worst of humanity‘s actions under the rug. And those who have suffered so could barely speak of it. For some it took over 50 years to share even a little; others were never able to speak of the atrocities that they witnessed and were subject to ever.

Back to the book! The author does a solid job of pulling you into all aspects of the stories upon stories of her parents (I do plan to read her follow up book, The Escape Artist). Her writing style makes an easy read of an extremely difficult story. It was easy to picture - it really played out like a movie as I read it.

As I shared this fascinating story while I was reading it, two of my Jewish friends said after WWII MANY Jews fled to other countries, created new names and personal history, a false identity, to run as far as they could from the devastation of their total loss... they hadn’t read this book, but they certainly knew the storyline… I was flabbergasted.

All of us have secrets in our family - few as dark and heinous as the depth of the structured evil as Holocaust survivors, or the complete and total loss they witnessed. There is much to learn about oneself and one’s own family dynamics they realizing the layers upon layers that kept secrets create.....

I highly recommend this book to everyone. We must never forget.... and Helen Fremont has given us a glimpse to realize the personal devastation generational secrets create. She allows us to see that we all really are doing the best that we can....... hopefully after reading we will all need kinder to all those around us.....
Profile Image for Paul.
815 reviews44 followers
December 27, 2017
This is not a recent book. I had it recommended to me based on other books I had read. It is a gripping Holocaust story that begins as a mystery. The author is a Michigander who grew up Roman Catholic. Her family faithfully went to mass, but always sat in the back row and left the church before the distribution. The author always felt there was something not quite transparent and strange about her parents and their backgrounds.

After much research, visiting Poland, Ukraine, and other European countries, the author and her sister discover that their antecedents are Polish Jews. In fact, their parents are Holocaust survivors--their father spending six years in a Russian gulag, starved to a near skeleton; their mother escaping from a concentration camp in Italy, and spending much of WWII in hiding, changing her name to Maria and getting baptized as a Roman Catholic.

The parents told the author and her sister that their parents were killed by a bomb in WWII and steadfastly refused to discuss anything further with them. The mother, in particular, has a complex case of PTSD and evidences hidden bursts of terror when the author tries to find out about their true background.

By little bits, the horrible history the author's parents endured parcels itself out. They witnessed nearly every Jew in their hometown in Poland get slaughtered by either the Russians or the Germans, and the experience was so paralyzing to them that they had to hide it from their consciousness and become unaware, at a conscious level, that it had ever happened.

The search for the family continues steadily, constantly upsetting the author's mother, and later the mother's sister, who has been living as a fake Italian countess in Italy. The book becomes steadily more intriguing as it progresses. I would have given it a 5 except for some odd capital letters that would appear in the middle of sentences, as well as random periods, and a few forced metaphors (people carrying history around on their feet). The second half of the book was unputdownable.
Profile Image for Jenni.
257 reviews5 followers
April 11, 2017
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 parents maintained a lot of secrecy during her research into their past, some of the story was a bit of fiction: conversations that maybe did or didn't happen, descriptions of things or places that the author couldn't have possibly known, etc. Add to that a weird mix of strange metaphors interjected here and there (that I assume were meant to "pretty up" the writing), and I found myself annoyed and distracted from the story itself. Not the most riveting of writing.

Still, I commend the author for the effort she put in to understanding her family's past, embracing her background and coming to peace with her parents' secret. It's not easy to assume that a memoir of your life (or your parents') will be interesting enough to be published and read, but this author had a remarkable story worth telling.
Profile Image for Jake.
174 reviews2 followers
July 10, 2008
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 mother as a "a means of survival : proof of my Catholicism to anyone in a dozen countries.", to her experiences as an adult, slowly discovering the truth about her family and her heritage, and even back in time, chronicling the major events of her parents lives as they struggled to stay alive, and ultimate come back together after the devastation of the Second World War.

It's a very powerful, very interesting book, and Fremont tells her story well. She weaves together different time periods and events in a fairly seamless way, and her depictions of her parent's lives in Poland during the war all ring very true. And her own confusion and soul searching at discovering that her parents were not who she thought they were manages to be poignant, without being overbearing.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
25 reviews
August 22, 2008
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 remarkable tale of survival, as vivid as fiction but with the resonance of truth.

Driven to uncover their roots, Fremont and her sister pieced together an astonishing story: of Siberian Gulags and Italian royalty, of concentration camps and buried lives. After Long Silence is about the devastating price of hiding the truth; about families; about the steps we take, foolish or wise, to protect ourselves and our loved ones. No one who reads this book can be unmoved, or fail to understand the seductive, damaging power of secrets."
Profile Image for Susan .
62 reviews1 follower
March 2, 2015
"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 Catholics. This is a story not only of survival in the face of tremendous danger and deprivation, but also of what remains at the core of a person who has to pretend to be someone and something else for many years. A chilling quote on the book's back cover says it all: "To this day, I don't even know what my mother's real name is." This is a well-written, well-paced, and loving story of a search for self and sense.
Profile Image for Alison.
125 reviews5 followers
March 4, 2016
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 themselves, to discovering her own 'present' moments in her past. My only criticism of this book is that I grew a little tired of Fremont's rhetorical questions--they were always written well, but there were too many (especially in the novel's middle) for me to really avail myself to her story.
Profile Image for Laurie.
187 reviews3 followers
December 9, 2010
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 learn of her religious and cultural heritage until she was in her mid-30's! I really enjoyed this book - such a good experience to learn about what other people have been through and how the past effects the present.
Profile Image for Nick.
164 reviews1 follower
August 27, 2014
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 profound and haunting as any holocaust memoir you will find.
452 reviews132 followers
May 5, 2021
A very powerful story, definitely worth reading: what the author's parents went through in the Holocaust years and in Stalin's Russia was harrowing. The fact that they survived is astonishing; that they survived with damaged souls and minds is understandable and sad.

That said, the book has problems. For one thing, the entire is exercise is morally ambiguous. Was the story truly Fremont's to tell, given her parents' fragile psyches? I'm sure reasonable arguments could be made on both sides, but the book rather skirts the issue -- plastering the gaps with protestations of filial love and hints of movement towards understanding. In light of the fact that her parents entirely disowned her (Fremont's second book tells us that her father identified her in his will as "predeceased"), such positions are less than fully defensible.

Moreover, it is clear that the depictions of past events are largely imagined. Yes, they are (one assumes) based on testimony given by parents, relatives, witnesses, and documents, but long passages have dialogue and descriptions that Ms Fremont obviously had to invent. The result is a narrative that is smoother and more dramatic, but it does leave the reader -- this reader -- uncertain as to what's real and what's imagined.

I believe that the pluses of the book outweigh the minuses, so I'm glad I read it. But I do have misgivings.
Profile Image for Mary Herceg.
141 reviews
June 29, 2019
DNF due to content issues.

I finally found this book on Goodreads--I had forgotten the title, and I've spent years trying to remember, after I decided I should write a negative review someday. I won't just yet, but I'm saving it for that purpose.

I DNF-ed this book because of major content that was too much for me. (Mostly adult sexual content and some disturbing things.) It felt icky and made me extremely uncomfortable, and I couldn't keep reading. I quit when it got severe, but I should have stopped long before. It's my personal preference not to read certain things, or things that affect me negatively.

Someday, I hope to write a brief outline of the content for readers who share my standards, but I don't have time now. But feel free to ask me if you need to know.
Profile Image for Barbara Nutting.
2,725 reviews91 followers
October 30, 2020
As the charcoal gray clouds of war were creeping in on Poland September 1, 1939, I kept wanting to shout “get out”, “leave”, but I was too late. A very moving story of the Holocaust told from a unique perspective. The description was vivid and the writing top-notch.

I wish I’d read this first, before The Escape Artist, but it didn’t matter too much.
Profile Image for Lori.
228 reviews
December 19, 2022
Unlike many of the reviews, I found this book maddening. Helen comes across to me as selfish and shortsighted. What did it change to know about their family’s history. Seeing the anguish in discussing the past, how could she continue to ask questions. How could she divulge what she knew to her cousin? What gave her the right to publish a book about it. I’m sad. Not for her, but her family.
Profile Image for Diane.
125 reviews2 followers
October 14, 2019
Compelling survival story also shows the frustration when some people in a family want to know the truth and others don't.
Profile Image for Suzette Tanen.
97 reviews
July 17, 2022
Once again, keeping big secrets from your family rarely works out. This book really touched my heart and I'll be thinking about it for a long time.
Profile Image for Kristen.
265 reviews11 followers
February 6, 2020
Fascinating memoir about the power and devastation of family secrets. Helen Fremont was raised Roman Catholic in a small town in Midwest America. Her parents, immigrants from Poland, rarely spoke about the war or the death of their own parents. It wasn’t until Fremont was an adult, practicing law in Boston, that she unraveled the truth about her family history: her parents were Jewish and Holocaust survivors. Their tale of survival reads like a thriller complete with secret identities, dangerous journeys, and six years in a Soviet gulag. Even after arriving in America, her parents clung to their Catholic identity, hiding their true history from even their two daughters.

I was moved by the story and the way Fremont wrote with such wit and openness. The story bears witness to the damage caused by silence while seeking to understand the motive for secrets, the way trauma ripples outwards and touches everything in its path.
2 reviews
February 10, 2020
Hard to believe the extent of the truth in this. How can someone have their parents reveal their most painful horrific secrets in confidence to their daughter and then have their daughter turn around and publish them to the world (while they are still living)?? Unspeakably selfish. This just must have compounded their horrific experience....the prepublished prologue in the next book to come out in Feb 11, 2020, says Helen was pretty much written out of her fathers will (she was considered predeceased)…over what looks like was Helen’s publishing of the unspeakably traumatic experiences they had trusted Helen to keep.
Interestingly, in what excerpts are available to read in Helen’s upcoming book, Helen takes no ownership or remorse for the unspeakable hurt she did to her parents and since they are now deceased, it looks pretty clear that she takes her anger out on her sister…. (at least as can be gleaned from Helen's hired Amazon reviewers book disclosures written before the book is released). And why hire reviewers for this book.????..very suspect. Doesn’t look like she hired reviewers for this book…no reviews dated before this books publication date.
My assumption, is that most of what Helen viciously writes about her sister in the second book to come out Feb 11, 2020 is not true. Helen makes it clear in the first few pages available before publication, that she has always been deeply jealous of her sister and her sisters relationship with her parents.....and is not taking any look at herself (Helen). Projecting one’s own actions as not yours but someone else’s is a well know pattern in those who have alot of anger and cannot look at their own role in their problems. And again as in the last book Helen is doing this to a family member who is still living. Unfathomable!!! This by itself is horrific and viscous. I hope other readers notice this and speak up...unlike the hired reviewers did. These problems driving Helen's exaggerated anger are so clearly hung for all to notice in the first few pages. Chances are her sister Lara who is made the black sheep in the family is the healthy one. Seems like that is often the case in families.
Profile Image for Catherine Kapphahn.
Author 1 book5 followers
September 16, 2020
I couldn't put this book down! I connected to the author and her sister's experience of uncovering
an unexpected identity, discovering a traumatic history, and excavating family secrets in order to find some sense of wholeness. While reading, I became attached to her vibrant family, which Fremont so gracefully brings to life on the page. I especially appreciated how she showed the upheaval of the truth; how facing one's history can fragment a life before the long process of integrating it into yourself.
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