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The Choice: Embrace the Possible

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It’s 1944 and sixteen-year-old ballerina and gymnast Edith Eger is sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience. The Choice is her unforgettable story.

289 pages, Hardcover

First published September 5, 2017

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Edith Eger

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,211 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,326 reviews7,103 followers
August 17, 2018
**4.5 STARS **

Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

I could never find the right words and phrases to describe what a moving yet uplifting memoir this is. Edith Eger was just 16 years old in 1944 when she entered the gates of hell - Auschwitz. Her grandparents and mother and father were sent to the gas chamber under the direct orders of the infamous Josef Mengele. Under those same orders she was made to dance for Mengele. Although she was terrified, she managed to take her mind back to the outside world, back to when she used to give ballet performances for appreciative audiences. At the end of her performance for Mengele she was thrown a small loaf of bread - and though grateful that she had the extra food to share with her sister Magda and others, she was also relieved that he hadn’t bestowed the same fate on her as her beloved family members.

I won’t go into any more detail, but Edith shares her experiences in Auschwitz , and when liberation finally came, she was discovered among a pile of bodies barely alive.

Man’s inhumanity to man never fails to shock me. The ones who were fortunate enough to survive the death camps, didn’t just need medical intervention for their extreme malnutrition and other physical problems, but more importantly it was the huge psychological scars that would prove the most difficult to heal.

Edith went on to become an eminent psychologist, someone who helped people come to terms with the traumas in their lives, (and she shares many of those cases with us) but she also needed to exorcise the ghosts of her own past too!

I found when I was reading this book, that an involuntary sob would sometimes appear out of nowhere. It was excruciating to read at times, and yet I couldn’t put it down. Desmond Tutu said that this book would leave you forever changed- I’m inclined to agree. Thank you Edith for sharing your courageous and inspiring life story, it’s not something I will forget any time soon.

Thank you so Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK Ebury Publishing for my Arc. I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,918 reviews35.3k followers
August 14, 2020
“Time doesn’t heal. It’s what you do with time. Healing is possible when we choose to take responsibility, when we choose to take risks, and finally, when we choose to release the wound, to let go of the past or the grief”.

The above excerpt is true - but that doesn’t mean it’s easy - or can be achieved by waving a magic wand- or positive thinking it alone. We’d only be fooling ourselves.
It’s more involved than simply stating a mantra.

But.... I’m getting ahead of myself.
The most important thing I can share is how extraordinary this memoir
From start to finish - it’s PIERCING....ASTONISHING.....GUT WRENCHING...EYE-OPENING about experiences of the Holocaust- (no matter how many books you’ve read on this topic).
Edith also gives us a very close look at what follows at the end of imprisonment, the end of the war.

-‘Something’ will feel ‘new’ about The Holocaust as if reading it for the very first time.

I didn’t know who this 90 year old author was until yesterday- but her name -
*Edith Eva Eger* is a mainstay solid name in my heart & mind now. Can you image writing your first and only book at age 90? If ‘yes’....’wonderful’. This woman had a story to tell!!!!

I’ve read several memoirs about the Holocaust—written by ‘survivors’ whom I can ‘never’ forget their ‘name’ —

“The CHOICE”, by Edith Eva Eger is a mind boggling memoir — incredibly affecting!!!!! I’ll remember her name!!! And... I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

When Edith was first released from the war...she said many things...
Here are a couple of things she said:
but now I have no voice”.

“For more than a year I have not had the luxury to think about what hurts or doesn’t hurt. I have been able to think only about how to keep up with others, how to stay one step ahead, to get a little food here, to walk fast enough, to never stop, to stay alive, to not be left behind. Now that the danger is gone, the pain within and the suffering around me turn awareness into hallucination. A silent movie. A march of skeletons. Most of us are too physically ruined to walk. We lie on carts, we lean on sticks. Our uniforms are filthy and worn, so ragged and tattered that they hardly cover our skin. Our skin hardly covers our bones. We are an anatomy lesson. Elbows, knees, ankles, cheeks, knuckles, ribs jut out like questions. What are we now? Our bones look obscene, our eyes are caverns, Blue-black finger nails. We are trauma in motion”.

The story you’ll read in this book deals with a dark, difficult, and important subject ...
Edith brings forth a profound human quality relative to today.

Edith married, came over to the United States, had three children, learned English, got a degree, a PhD, taught history in Texas.
She later became a psychologist helping others overcome traumas.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,677 reviews1,607 followers
August 8, 2018
Dr Edith Eva Eger is an eminent psychologist whose own experiences as a Holocaust survivor helps her treat patients and allows them to escape the prisons of their own minds.

Edith Eger was just sixteen when the Nazis came to her hometown of Hungry and took the Jewish family to an interment centre and then to Auschwitz. Her parents were then sent to the gas chamber by Joseph Menele. Edith was demanded by Menele to waltz "The Blue Danube" just a few hours after her parents were murdered. Menele rewarded Edith with a small loaf of bread of which she shared with her fellow prisoners.

This is a beautifully written and very moving memoir. It has been divided into four sections: Prison, Escape, Freedom and Healing. How these people who suffered so much, could heal and then go on to make something of their lives like Edith has, beggars belief. This is one very committed woman, who became a therapist, who truly understands people's pain and forgives uniquely. This is not something I would normally read, but I'm really glad that I did. I highly recommend this book.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing and the author Edith Eger for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,184 reviews1,080 followers
July 22, 2020
Edith Eger’s determination and courage to survive against the odds make this a heart-breaking but powerful and inspiring read.

This is what reading is all about for me, and I am grateful to Edith Eger who generously takes her readers on a journey that is harrowing but so inspirational and motivating. I have read so many concentration camp survivor’s stories over the years and each and every one of those books have taught me something new and that is the reason I keep reading and learning and remembering this time in our world’s ugly history.

Edith’s story is so well written and her strength and courage give this book an uplifting feel. We experience through words on a page her unthinkable experiences in Nazi concentration camps and how she survived and went on to become a therapist and helped others recover from all kinds of hardship and experiences. Her remarkable ability to forgive and heal while helping others in her work is a lesson to us all.

In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

I loved several quotes in this book and a couple that really stood out for me are.....

I remind myself that each of us has an Adolf Hitler and a Corrie Ten Boom within us. We have the capacity to hate and the capacity to love.

The Piano that lived against the wall under her portrait is gone. The piano was so present in our daily lives that it was almost invisible, like breath. Now its absence dominates the room.

I am so glad I finally had an opportunity to read this inspiring account and another book for my favorites shelf.
Profile Image for El Librero de Valentina.
262 reviews17.9k followers
July 20, 2019
Una historia desgarradora y de superación de una mujer que a lo largo de su vida buscó , de manera incansable, la forma de superar su experiencia como prisionera de un campo de exterminio.
Profile Image for Karen.
561 reviews1,105 followers
October 8, 2018
This is the memoir of Dr. Edith Eger, age 90...an internationally acclaimed psychologist and one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors. At the age of sixteen, along with her parents and sister Magda, was sent to Auschwitz.
Edie and Magda survived multiple death camps, and Edie was found barely alive in a pile of corpses when American Troops liberated the camps in 1945.
Such an extraordinary book on survival and stories of how she has helped others to heal by confronting their suffering and making the “choice” to heal.

It took me a long time to read this because I was going online and looking up so many places and people,not that I needed to but I was just so interested since this was a true story. Dr Edith Eger is AMAZING!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
180 reviews25 followers
September 5, 2017
This is a beautiful, absolutely pitch-perfect memoir by Dr. Edith Eger. I was not familiar with Dr. Eger prior to reading this, and I am grateful to her for sharing her story.

The book is organized into four sections: Prison, Escape, Freedom, and Healing. I would describe it as three parts memoir, one part therapy. It would be enough, simply for nanogeneraian Dr. Eger to tell us her story and share the important events she witnessed in her lifetime. But she is not satisfied to make this book only about her experience. She is clearly a committed therapist who understands pain and forgiveness uniquely, and has a very powerful message that to truly live a full life, we need to make the choice not only to forgive, but to forgive ourselves.

I describe the book as pitch-perfect because from the introduction, Dr. Eger explains that there is no heirarchy when it comes to suffering. She does not tell her story so that the reader will minimize their own suffering in comparison, that would just be another way of judging ourselves. As a therapist, she understands that someone whose suffering may seem superficial to others, is generally attributed to something much more deeply rooted, and representative of a much larger pain. I find it extraordinary that she is capable of empathizing with others to this extent. When you read her story, and I hope you do, you will understand the extent of her personal suffering. Not only what she endured in her youth, but as an adult coming to terms with everything she lost, and finding a way to let it be her strength, instead of imagining what her life would have been had it not been interrupted by the cruelty and injustice of the Holocaust. I can not find the words to describe the depth of her compassion.

Life is about choices, and I am guilty of the destructive thinking that Dr. Eger drescribes in the book. In my Midewestern upbringing, I was raised to take responsibility for my choices. I pride myself in this responsibility. What this book has made me realize that often in my experience, this has been a punishing idea - there are choices, and there are consequences. But life is not that simple, there are choices and more choices. Often we choose to punish ourselves. In doing so, we are imprisoning ourselves with our own beliefs - of not feeling worthy, a fear of making a bad choice... The author is open about choices she made in her own life, and that they may not have been the best ones. Everyone suffers. Everyone has endured the consequences of their own poor choices. But to live our best life, we must continue to make choices, instead of allowing ourselves to be imprisoned by our past.

Thank you, Dr. Edith Eva Eger for sharing your story and your wisdom. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of The Choice for review.
38 reviews36 followers
August 19, 2017
I will admit that I did not expect to enjoy this book. I thought it was going to be another holocaust memoir with a hint of psychological analysis. But man, was I wrong.
This book was beautifully written, and was a struggle to put down every night. This book was a small exercise in self-help, disguised as a gorgeous memoir. The Choice has genuinely made me change how I think about life.

I would highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Ariannha .
987 reviews
March 22, 2021
“Si sobrevivo hoy, mañana seré libre”

Edith Eger estuvo a punto de cumplir su sueño cuando tenía 16 años: ser bailarina profesional. Sin embargo, su sueño se ve truncado cuando en marzo de 1944, en las últimas etapas de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, los nazis llegaron a su casa, en la ciudad de Kosice (Hoy, Eslovaquia) y la arrestaron junto con su familia, y llevada a Auschwitz.

Muchos años después, cuando asimiló su traumática experiencia, quiso aportar su granito de arena, ayudando a otros a sanar. Es por ello que esta novela, que se mueve entre la biografía y autoayuda, no es una simple descripción de los acontecimientos ocurridos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, sino un cúmulo de experiencias personales.

Su forma de escribir me gustó mucho, es cruda y real, pero al mismo tiempo tiene ese algo que te engancha y que hace que quieras leer más. La novela está narrada en primera persona por supuesto desde el punto de vista de Edith.

La novela no cuenta con una trama propiamente dicha, sino que está dividida en cuatro partes: la prisión, la huida, la libertad y la curación. A través de las cuales nos cuenta la historia de una mujer real, que sobrevivió a la guerra y decidió compartir sus cicatrices. No es un libro de guerra, sino de paz, de aprender a superar cada obstáculo e intentar centrarte en las cosas buenas que te ofrece la vida.

En definitiva, es una historia de supervivencia y de superación personal. Es tan impactante como La bailarina de Auschwitz, una historia tan real como cruel, con sucesos de un pasado que nunca dejan de sorprenderme.

“No existe una jerarquía del sufrimiento. No hay nada que haga que mi dolor sea mejor o peor que el tuyo, no existe ninguna gráfica en la que podamos plasmar la importancia relativa de un pesar respecto a otro.”
Profile Image for Paul Lockman.
245 reviews6 followers
September 13, 2018
5 stars
Absorbing. Brilliant. A truly inspirational read.
What a woman! Edith Eger is now 90 years old and has given the world this outstanding memoir of her survival in Auschwitz as a teenager and then her life after WWII when she and her husband emigrated to America and all the while describing how she has dealt with being a survivor and her path to self-acceptance, self-fulfilment and inner peace. The book cover has a quote from Desmond Tutu, ‘A gift to humanity. One of those rare and eternal stories that leave you forever changed.’ It’s hard to disagree with that sentiment.

What makes it such a great book? A few reasons for me – first and foremost, it's a remarkable story of survival in itself. I felt the timeframes of the book were just right with the first third of the book devoted to her time in the infamous concentration camp and the remaining two-thirds devoted to the rest of her life. I really liked the fact that a considerable amount was written about the few months just after the war ended and the adjustment to freedom and the brand new life Edith was facing in the late 1940s and early 1950s, which is something you don’t often find with books written by holocaust survivors. Also, the writing is free flowing, engaging and very high quality. It’s a real page-turner. For me, probably the main thing that makes it so memorable is that Edith went onto to become a registered clinical psychologist and she offers such raw and honest insights into the human condition, how she coped with such a traumatic experience and what gives our lives meaning. I felt the balance in describing her own psyche and healing and the examples she gave of the many clients she has helped was just right too.

Very early on we get some insights into Edith’s firm belief about the power of the mind and our thinking and how she wants us to view her experience as a survivor…..

'Why do we so often struggle to feel alive, or distance ourselves from feeling life fully? Why is it such a challenge to bring life to life? If you asked me for the most common diagnosis among the people I treat, I wouldn’t say depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, although these conditions are all too common among those I’ve known, loved, and guided to freedom. No, I would say hunger. We are hungry. We are hungry for approval, attention, affection. We are hungry for the freedom to embrace life and to really know and be ourselves.

We become victims not because of what happens to us but when we choose to hold onto our victimization. We develop a victim’s mind – a way of thinking and being that is rigid, blaming, pessimistic, stuck in the past, unforgiving, punitive, and without healthy limits or boundaries. We become our own jailors when we choose the confines of the victim’s mind.

I also want to say there is no hierarchy of suffering. There’s nothing that makes my pain worse or better than yours, no graph on which we can plot the relative importance of one sorrow versus another. People say to me “Things in my life are pretty hard right now, but I have no right to complain – it’s not Auschwitz.” This kind of comparison can lead us to minimize or diminish our own suffering. Being a survivor, being a “thriver” requires absolute acceptance of what was and what is………..I don’t want you to hear my story and say, “My own suffering is less significant.” I want you to hear my story and say, “If she can do it, then so can I!”

Edith talks us through some of the big names in psychology and psychotherapy that she gravitated towards, e.g. Rogers, Ellis, Seligman, and she came up with her own version of therapy that she labelled Choice Therapy, as freedom is about choosing compassion, humour, optimism, intuition, curiosity, and self-expression. And to be free is to live in the present. There was also a heart breaking choice that Edith had to make standing in line at Auschwitz but I won’t put in a spoiler describing what that choice was.

Nearing the end of the book it’s 2010 and Edith has been invited to address an army unit returning from combat in Afghanistan to talk about her experience of trauma and how she coped and survived. She gets a little nervous stepping up to the podium but then reminds herself.....I was there to share the most important truth I know, that the biggest prison is in your own mind, and in your pocket you already hold the key: the willingness to take absolute responsibility for your life; the willingness to risk; the willingness to release yourself from judgment and reclaim your innocence, accepting and loving yourself for who you really are – human, imperfect, and whole.

It would be interesting to know how many holocaust survivors are still alive. There can't be too many, most would be well into their 80s and 90s. Edith herself is 90 and her sister Magda who was with her the whole time in Auschwitz is 95. It's so critical we get as many survivor stories published as possible while they are still alive. Thank you Edith Eger for sharing your brave and compelling story with us.
Profile Image for Laura y sus libros.
313 reviews128 followers
February 17, 2023
Cuando salió este libro en uno de los clubes de lectura en los que estoy, no sabía si apuntarme.

Llevo mucho tiempo sin leer nada relacionado con los campos de concentración, de hecho, desde que estuve visitando Auschwitz hace unos años.  

En diciembre tanteé con el Ruiseñor, volviendo a leer sobre la Segunda guerra mundial y al final decidí que tenía que leer la bailarina tras leer la sinopsis. (Últimamente no leo sinopsis a no ser que esté dudosa).

La verdad es que no ha sido lo que esperaba. Esperaba algo más parecido a El hombre en busca del sentido y no, para nada.

Me ha parecido un libro maravilloso, un libro terapéutico. Porque que una persona que a los 15 años fue llevada a un campo de concentración te cuente cómo sobrevivió, no solo a eso si no al después. A la culpa, al miedo constante, a la vida que no pudo vivir, es algo sin duda liberador.
Sin duda es un plus que Edith sea psicoterapeuta desde hace años y durante el libro nos cuenta como las terapias de muchos pacientes, lo que le contaban, lo que hacía con ellos, fueron catárticos para ella misma.

Es un libro duro, nunca pensé que aun me quedaba por leer, ver o saber algunas cosas que se hacían en los campos y en este libro algunas de ellas me han removido mucho. Pero a la vez es un libro que da esperanza, es luminoso, como un renacer, como ver un ave fénix despegar de sus cenizas.

Lloras, sufres, te emocionas, sonríes e incluso ríes.
Me encantaría conocer a esta mujer, me encantaría que fuera mi terapeuta. Escribió este libro a los 90 años. Actualmente tiene 95 años. ¿Seguirá haciendo en Grand Battement?
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,712 reviews2,238 followers
February 20, 2019
At the age of 16, Edith Eva Eger, Edie to her friends, was living in Kosice, Slovakia when she, along with one of her two sisters, her mother and father were forced to leave their home behind, and removed to a labor camp, followed by their transfer to Auschwitz. It was the last day she would ever see her mother, and where her parents were executed.

”Survivors don’t have time to ask, ‘Why me?’ For survivors, the only relevant question is, ‘What now?’”

Dr. Josef Mengele has requested entertainment by one of the new arrivals, and the girls in this group have pushed her forward knowing he is looking for someone to dance for his entertainment, the orchestra gathering outside. Addressing her as “little dancer,” he commands, ”dance for me.”

”He never takes his eyes off me, but he attends to his duties as he watches. I can hear his voice over the music. He discusses with the other officer which ones of the hundred girls present will be killed next. If I miss a step, if I do anything to displease him, it could be me. I dance. I dance. I am dancing in hell. I can’t bear to see the executioner as he decides our fates. I close my eyes.”

He tosses her a loaf of bread – a gesture that will save her life.

This is not only a memoir of her life in Auschwitz, of how she managed to survive in this literal concentration camp, but also the story of her healing after, her life after, and how she has a unique insight into helping others escape their own “concentration camps,” the things that hinder us, prevent us from living life to the fullest. She also shares stories about patients and their challenges, and some of their breakthroughs. A memoir that shows a path to self-acceptance, and healing, she has shared a path toward freedom from past fears, from the anger, injustice, unresolved grief, and the ”freedom to enjoy the full rich feast of life.”

Edith Eger will celebrate her 92nd this September 29th after publishing her memoir just weeks after her 90th birthday. She is an amazing woman with an incredible story to share.

Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!
Profile Image for Lu Ferreira.
2 reviews4,452 followers
April 17, 2021
TODO MUNDO deveria ler esse livro. Principalmente nesse momento de mundo.
Profile Image for Loslibrosdejuliet.
470 reviews1,441 followers
May 14, 2021
Es un libro sobre la supervivencia, no solamente física, sino también emocionalmente. La autora nos explica cómo llegó a curarse, a nivel físico pero sobretodo a nivel psicológico.

Nos explica en primera persona sus vivencias desde el momento en que se empezó a perseguir a los Judíos, su paso por Auschwitz, sus sentimientos, sus emociones en cada momento a lo largo de su vida.

Es un libro que te hace sentir mucho, empatizar con el miedo y el sufrimiento, incluso la ira.

Psicológicamente hablando, es un libro maravilloso, sin duda de los mejores que he leído (en este caso escuchado en audiolibro). Cómo una persona que ha sufrido tantísimo, es capaz de seguir hacia adelante, perdonar y ayudar a los demás, sin duda un ejemplo que deberíamos seguir todos.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,746 reviews1,212 followers
September 12, 2018
full 5 stars book

It’s a great mix of holocaust, biography, psychology, though it’s mostly her personal story, with various family members, and to a lesser extent some of her patients included. It’s extremely readable and it flows beautifully, and I didn’t want to put it down.

It’s a compelling account, and it’s powerful, and for me with “punches to the gut” emotional.

It seems that she wants readers/others to feel empowered by her story and with what she’s learned about healing and living, but my depressed and anxious feelings were brought up, though I definitely also saw ways to use what she teaches and models.

The “reveal” toward the end was fine for me because it was something she hadn’t remembered, so it felt as though the reader was learning it when she did and didn’t feel manipulative.

I’m so glad that she wrote this book, and in this format/form and with this content. It’s an indispensable addition to the Holocaust memoir genre, and one of the very best.

She does have a co-writer but I never got the feeling that I wasn’t directly hearing her voice.

It’s a very quotable book including:

“How easily a life can become a litany of guilt and regret, a song that keeps echoing with the same chorus, with the inability to forgive ourselves. How easily the life we didn’t live becomes the only life we prize. How easily we are seduced by the fantasy that we are in control, that we were ever in control, that the things we could or should have doneor said have the power, if only we had done or said them, to cure pain, to erase suffering, to vanish loss. How easily we can cling to – worship – the choice we think we could or should have made.”


“So often when we are unhappy it is becasue we are taking too much responsibility or we are taking too little. Instead of being assertive and choosing clearly for ourselves, we might become aggressive (choosing for others) or passive (letting others choose for us), or passive-aggressive (choosing for others by preventing them from achieving what they are choosing for themselves).”


“Time doesn't heal. It’s what you do with the time. Healing is possible when we choose to take responsibility, when we choose to take risks, and finally, when we choose to release the wound, to let go of the past or the grief.”
Profile Image for Javi Martínez Librero.
110 reviews8 followers
December 25, 2022
9'5/10 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Dolorosamente bello.
Dicen que la realidad supera la ficción, y este libro es un crudo ejemplo de ello. Edith Eger (escritora) no ha necesitado inventar una historia, simplemente contar su vida.
Edith y la coautora Esmé Schwall Weigand plasman, en poco más de 400 páginas, el testimonio de Edith sobre lo vivido en Auschwitz y su largo camino hacia la curación. Su pluma revela su trayectoria como psicóloga, convirtiendo su relato en una inspiradora fuente de superación y supervivencia. Como si de un libro de autoayuda se tratase.
Su lectura es muy interesante, engancha, y está repleta de lecciones de vida. Debería ser libro de obligada lectura por su valor histórico y por como una superviviente es capaz de convertir el dolor en una herramienta para sanar. Recomendado a todo ser humano. De los mejores libros que he leído.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,694 reviews1,479 followers
December 13, 2018
This book is more than a holocaust memoir. Look at the title--The Choice: Embrace the Possible. It does detail the author’s holocaust experiences, but it goes further. Its primary focus concerns how to live life after surviving a trauma, any trauma. It is more about living than it is about death. The tone of the book is positive, not negative. Changing the past is not possible, but actively choosing how you wish to live the future is.

The introduction outlines what the book will cover--Edith Eger's philosophy on how to live life, her holocaust experiences and her case work as a licensed clinical psychologist helping others. The book does do what it says it will do, and it does it well. It grabbed my attention from start to finish!

The case studies to which the author refers do not deal with the holocaust. They deal with a variety of psychological problems, for example those related to anorexia, breast cancer, licentious sexual behavior, drinking problems, PTSD after the Vietnam war and loss of a mother. In each case the author explains the methods she used to help each patient. Each case is different and each case pulls you in and she examines what the case has taught her. Being a psychologist is a learning process. Being a psychologist helped her understand herself, but the process took years. What is constant in all the examples is her belief that an individual must take their life in their own hands, choose and actively make choices.

Those who have survived the holocaust have much to teach us, particularly Edith Eger because she is a psychologist. Holocaust literature does not shy away from horrible reality, but it at the same time can show how to appreciate and live the life given us. This book does exactly this. I love the attitude and the title is perfect.

Tovah Feldshuh reads the audiobook wonderfully. Edith Eger’s Hungarian accent is well drawn. Five stars for the narration, just as for the book!
Profile Image for Nika.
284 reviews101 followers
February 20, 2021
Як би то не звучало гучно, але я прочитала одну з найкращих і найінтимніших книг у свому житті.

Книга, яка містить в собі стільки відповідей, стільки відвертості, стільки пояснень.

Вона зовсім не про Аушвіц, а правильніше не лише про нього. Вона про той великий концентраційний табір який ми носимо в собі - наш власний мозок і ті "вірування" про себе, що ми туди вкладаємо💔
І ось ця маленька з вигляду, але наскільки сильна духом жінка, запрошує наш на шлях пізнання. Ба навіть бере знаєте за руку і на своєму прикладі показує, що значить тікати та городитися від зла в минулому. Чим то все обов'язково повернеться.
Бо ж допоки ми не подивимося йому в очі і не визнаємо, що воно було, все не мине і не звільнить нас💔
Profile Image for Tania.
1,185 reviews268 followers
August 10, 2020
“Survivors don't have time to ask, "Why me?" For survivors, the only relevant question is, "What now?”

I can’t believe that such a small little book (287 pages) can pack such a big punch! I think this memoir and self-help text is life-changing and incredibly inspiring. If you only read one book this year make it this one.

The first third of The Choice is a description of Edith’s family life and her arrival at Auschwitz at the age of 16. As in Night the devil is in the detail, and some of the images she shares will be forever etched in my mind. We sometimes forget that even in the worst of times people are still human, and I loved how she was able to show how teenage girls even managed to have some fun by having a topless competition even in the most dire of situations.

The middle part of the book focuses on her liberation from the camp and how she tries to seamlessly fit back into daily live just carrying on as if nothing has changed, and the toll this takes on her emotional wellbeing. Most of the WW2 Jewish memoirs end once they are released and reading about how quickly everyone was just supposed to go back to normal without going through a process of grieve and healing adds a valuable extra element to this story.

The last third looks at case studies from her work as psychologist and serves as a practical guide to healing. Her message about not being in charge of what happens to you, but being able to choose how you react to events, is something that I have always lived by, but she adds many layers and looks at many other interconnected themes which I’ve not considered before.

A profound message from a inspirational person.
“No matter how frustrating or boring or constraining or painful or oppressive our experience, we can always choose how we respond.”

Profile Image for Люда Дмитрук.
56 reviews218 followers
April 6, 2022
Ідеальна книга для цих часів. Вона втримувала мене на плаву і допомагала пояснити свої реакції.
Profile Image for Andrea.
557 reviews
June 29, 2020
An emotional read especially the ordeal of the sisters trying to survive the terrible place Auschwitz a story that should never be forgotten.🌹
Profile Image for Jan Rice.
515 reviews435 followers
April 20, 2020
This book began as a roadmap for dealing with trauma and suffering amid societal upheaval -- in her case, the Holocaust. Given our current situation, I resonated with that. I'm thinking not only of our pandemic and the required social distancing and economic crisis, but also the tragicomedy of our having a wannabe totalitarian leader here in America who plays the segments of our population against each other, no matter how many lives will be lost. Under such circumstances, what good will it do for the culture to continue celebrating victimhood as a stand-in for virtue and pitching social warriors against each other? The author has something to say that's pertinent to all of that, albeit from an individual, psychological perspective. The true battle lines are interior. The battles must be fought internally and not via external blame, as we are so focused on doing. Thank you for that, Edith Eger. As for the Holocaust part of the book, read this one, not the awful Tattooist of Auschwitz; this one is the real thing. Nevertheless I don't think this is really a Holocaust book; it's a book on how to be free. Therein lie my criticisms. I think the book could have benefited from the author's asking herself what kind of book it was to be. She bowed to Holocaust convention to recount it all, then to memoir convention to relate her subsequent life sequentially, and, finally, when case histories didn't connect clearly to her main thrust, the book leaned toward being a how-to therapy book. Not to mention a pinch of famous-therapists-I-have-known. I bogged down at times but each time picked back up, and I appreciate the main message despite some distractions. Three-and-a-half stars.
Profile Image for Abril Camino.
Author 29 books1,472 followers
May 20, 2019
Para quien siga mis reseñas habitualmente, no será una sorpresa que diga que me encantan las novelas ambientadas en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Las que están bien escritas y son respetuosas, evidentemente. Pero también es cierto que, en los últimos tiempos, hay una afluencia algo exagerada de novelas tipo «El/la lo-que-sea de Auschwitz», casi llegando a un punto en que me parece frivolizar con uno de los mayores horrores de la historia reciente del mundo. Quizá por eso tenía «La bailarina de Auschwitz» desde hace meses en el ebook, pero no me decidía a empezarla. Y menos mal que lo hice porque, aunque el título recuerde a muchos otros..., esta historia es diferente.
Para empezar, es la historia real de su autora, Edith Eger, una bailarina húngara que bailó para Mengele en Auschwitz y, en parte, salvó su vida por ello. Pero sobre todo porque lo que encontramos en las páginas de este libro no es una historia romántica (más o menos realista) que encuentra su final feliz con la liberación de los campos y el reencuentro de sus protagonistas. Para nada. Es una auténtica biografía de la autora, en la que el tiempo en Auschwitz ocupa apenas una cuarta parte de las páginas. El resto es su historia de supervivencia, de perdón, de culpabilidad del superviviente y de lucha. Un tratado de psicología en el que la propia autora introduce los paralelismos entre sus emociones y las de los pacientes que trató en su experiencia clínica en Estados Unidos, mucho después del final de la guerra. Un libro para paladear despacio (es bastante cortito) y aprender mucho de él sobre la vida. Me ha recordado mucho (y creo que esto es lo mejor que puedo decir sobre la novela) a «Si esto es un hombre», de Primo Levi.
Profile Image for Linda.
152 reviews85 followers
August 31, 2018
I once had the opportunity to hear Christopher Reeves speak after he was paralyzed from his neck down. He was confined to a wheelchair, dependent on a ventilator to breath and yet I was totally amazed at all he had accomplished after his accident...how he did not allow his body to imprison him. Tears flowed through out the audience as he shared his story . I do not think anyone could leave that day without being inspired.

Amazing as it is, Edy Eger and her book have impacted me even more. Not only for her own heart wrenching, horrific story of her survival as a prisoner of war at one of the worst concentration camps in history, but for her story of her life’s work in teaching people how to “escape the concentration camps of their own minds. “

Some books we hold dear to our hearts for the touching stories or for how they made us feel. It is the rare book that comes along that gives us new eyes to see and shares tools that can impact our daily life. “ The Choice Embrace the Possible “ is that kind of book. Tucked within its pages you will find hope, healing and wisdom. We are blessed to have Edy Eger in our midst. I am blessed to have been able to read her book. I have to share this last thought. No matter what I would write here, I could not do this book justice.
Profile Image for Amie Frost.
50 reviews3 followers
January 15, 2019
This was a very moving and emotional read. Learning about Edith’s experience throughout WWII and being a survivor. Later in life she becomes a psychologist and tells the stories of many of her patients, and how through healing them, she helped to heal herself.

I have only given 3 stars, as although a good read with some great messages, I thought there was too many accounts of the people she had treated, and personally I got a little bored of reading them.
Profile Image for Negin.
596 reviews151 followers
April 11, 2021
Wow! What an incredible read! This is one of the best books that I’ve ever read. It’s certainly the best that I’ve read this year and in the longest while.

In 1944, when Edith Eger was sixteen, she and her family were sent from Kassa, Hungary to Auschwitz. I connected with her right from the start. Her story was deep, rich, and powerful. If you’re tired of reading WWII/holocaust books, don’t be turned off. This is not your typical WWII memoir. Obviously, those parts were painful and hard to get through. I had to put the book down many times. What makes this book unique is that it moves beyond that that dreadful time. This is a memoir, but it’s not just a WWII memoir.

It’s a memoir, but it also has some non-preachy self-help aspects to it. This is the part where she describes her work as a clinical psychologist. For me, it’s helped to subtly change the way that I wish to live my life. While reading it, I would talk about it often with my family. I mentioned how she reminds me of a female Viktor Frankl, another favorite of mine. It turns out that they were friends for decades. I feel blessed to have read both books, both of which I plan on re-reading.

When reading a book, I always read the preface or intro. I read the acknowledgements at the end also. I was pleasantly surprised with this one. One of the individuals mentioned in the acknowledgments is a former friend of mine!

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“… when we anesthetize our feelings, with eating or alcohol or other compulsive behaviors, we just prolong our suffering.”

“To be passive is to let others decide for you. To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself. And to trust that there is enough, that you are enough.”

“We cannot choose to have a life free of hurt. But we can choose to be free, to escape the past, no matter what befalls us, and to embrace the possible.”

“… we have a choice: to pay attention to what we’ve lost or to pay attention to what we still have.”

“… feelings, no matter how powerful, aren’t fatal. And they are temporary. Suppressing the feelings only makes it harder to let them go. Expression is the opposite of depression.”

“To forgive is to grieve—for what happened, for what didn’t happen—and to give up the need for a different past.”

“You can live to avenge the past, or you can live to enrich the present.”

“Answer the most important questions at the start of any journey towards freedom:
What am I doing now?
Is it working?
Is it bringing me closer to my goals, or farther away?”

“When you have something to prove, you aren’t free.”

“Time doesn't heal. It’s what you do with the time. Healing is possible when we choose to take responsibility, when we choose to take risks, and finally, when we choose to release the wound, to let go of the past or the grief.”

“No one heals in a straight line.”

“… healing isn’t about recovery; it’s about discovery. Discovering hope in hopelessness, discovering an answer where there doesn’t seem to be one, discovering that it’s not what happens that matters—it’s what you do with it.”

Hierarchy of Suffering
“… there is no hierarchy of suffering. There’s nothing that makes my pain worse or better than yours, no graph on which we can plot the relative importance of one sorrow versus another. People say to me, ‘Things in my life are pretty hard right now, but I have no right to complain—it’s not Auschwitz.’ This kind of comparison can lead us to minimize or diminish our own suffering. Being a survivor, being a ‘thriver’ requires absolute acceptance of what was and what is. If we discount our pain, or punish ourselves for feeling lost or isolated or scared about the challenges in our lives, however insignificant these challenges may seem to someone else, then we’re still choosing to be victims. We’re not seeing our choices. We’re judging ourselves. I don’t want you to hear my story and say, ‘My own suffering is less significant.’ I want you to hear my story and say, ‘If she can do it, then so can I!’”

“If you asked me for the most common diagnosis among the people I treat, I wouldn’t say depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, although these conditions are all too common among those I’ve known, loved, and guided to freedom. No, I would say hunger. We are hungry. We are hungry for approval, attention, affection. We are hungry for the freedom to embrace life and to really know and be ourselves.”

Losing a Child (or any Loved One for that matter)
“When we buried my child, you told me two things that I’ve never forgotten. You said, ‘Life will be good again.’ And you said, ‘If you can survive this, you can survive anything.’ I’ve said those phrases to myself over and over.”

“If we stay in a state of perpetual mourning, we are choosing a victim’s mentality, believing I’m never going to get over it. If we stay stuck in mourning, it is as though our lives are over too.
Put a picture of Jeremy in the living room. Don’t go to the cemetery to mourn his loss. Find a way to connect with him right there in your house. Set aside fifteen or twenty minutes every day to sit with him. You can touch his face, tell him what you’re doing. Talk to him. And then give him a kiss and go on about your day.”

Personal Responsibility
“When we abdicate taking responsibility for ourselves, we are giving up our ability to create and discover meaning. In other words, we give up on life.”

Post-Traumatic Stress (Disorder)
“I was having a flashback, that the unnerving physical sensations—racing heart, sweaty palms, narrowing vision—I experienced that day (and that I will continue to experience many times in my life, even now, in my late eighties) are automatic responses to trauma. This is why I now object to pathologizing post-traumatic stress by calling it a disorder. It’s not a disordered reaction to trauma—it’s a common and natural one. But I wish I had known that I wasn’t a damaged person, that I was suffering the fallout of an interrupted life.”

The Present
“… to be free is to live in the present. If we are stuck in the past, saying, ‘If only I had gone there instead of here,’ or ‘If only I had married someone else,’ we are living in a prison of our own making. Likewise, if we spend our time in the future, saying, ‘I won’t be happy until I graduate,’ or ‘I won’t be happy until I find the right person.’ The only place where we can exercise our freedom of choice is in the present.”

“It’s important to assign blame to the perpetrators. Nothing is gained if we close our eyes to wrong, if we give someone a pass, if we dismiss accountability. But as my fellow survivors taught me, you can live to avenge the past, or you can live to enrich the present. You can live in the prison of the past, or you can let the past be the springboard that helps you reach the life you want now.”

“The only place where we can exercise our freedom of choice is in the present.”

“We can’t control other people, and we can’t control the past.”

“There are an infinite number of things you could have done differently in your life. Those choices are done, the past is gone, nothing can change that.”

“When we seek revenge, even non-violent revenge, we are revolving, not evolving.”

Running Away
“… running away doesn’t heal pain. It makes the pain worse.”

“Survivors don’t have time to ask, ‘Why me? For survivors, the only relevant question is, ‘What now?’”

“Survivors could continue to be victims long after the oppression had ended, or they could learn to thrive.”

“We can’t erase the pain. But we are free to accept who we are and what has been done to us, and move on.”

“We don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but no one can take away from you what you put in your own mind.”

Three Questions
“Before you say or do something, ask, Is it kind? Is it important? Does it help?”

“A good definition of being a victim is when you keep the focus outside yourself, when you look outside yourself for someone to blame for your present circumstances, or to determine your purpose, fate, or worth.”

“… suffering is universal. But victimhood is optional.”

“There is a difference between victimization and victimhood. We are all likely to be victimized in some way in the course of our lives. At some point we will suffer some kind of affliction or calamity or abuse, caused by circumstances or people or institutions over which we have little or no control. This is life. And this is victimization. It comes from the outside. It’s the neighborhood bully, the boss who rages, the spouse who hits, the lover who cheats, the discriminatory law, the accident that lands you in the hospital. In contrast, victimhood comes from the inside. No one can make you a victim but you. We become victims not because of what happens to us but when we choose to hold on to our victimization.”

“We develop a victim’s mind—a way of thinking and being that is rigid, blaming, pessimistic, stuck in the past, unforgiving, punitive, and without healthy limits or boundaries.”

“It’s easier to hold someone or something else responsible for your pain than to take responsibility for ending your own victimhood.”

“It’s a dangerous game to play what-if with the past.”

White Supremacists
“… most of the members of white supremacist groups in America lost one of their parents before they were ten years old. These are lost children looking for an identity, looking for a way to feel strength, to feel like they matter.”
Profile Image for Tati.
937 reviews85 followers
August 1, 2018
Never forget. Never again

Years ago, I've had the chance of visiting a concentration camp. It was a haunted place, a place that had its soul burnt in the crematories. It is a dark and heavy feeling to know that someone very likely died or feared for their lives where you are casually stepping. It was not a happy visit. But it was a necessary visit, one I think every human being should make, so that the horror of the Holocaust is not allowed to happen again.

That being said, I sometimes feel that the concentration camps were only a part of the horror. Recovering from them must also have been a gruesome ordeal. Teaching a body to eat again. Trying to go back home. Trying to find a familiar face from before.

And Edith Eger does that beautifully. She narrates the horrors of Auschwitz. But she also tells of her recovery. Of how she was almost raped by a Russian soldier. Of overcoming and coming to grips with what had been done to her. The book sort of lost its way on the last part, when she starts talking about her patients, which have nothing to do with the rest of the book. They did help her overcome some of her trauma, but still, it felt a bit disconnected from the rest.
Profile Image for Maria Roxana.
515 reviews
May 31, 2020
Am citit multe cărți despre Holocaust, dar aceasta este diferită. Dr. Edith Eva Eger nu își spune doar povestea și suferințele îndurate, cum a reușit să supraviețuiască traumelor și cum a învățat din nou să trăiască, ci expune și din perspectiva unui specialist, a unui psihoterapeut, pașii pe care ea i-a urmat și pe care i-a îndrumat și pe alții să-i urmeze, înțelegerea la un nivel profund a sentimentelor cauzate de un eveniment tragic și împăcarea cu sine, recunoașterea că oricât de mari sunt obstacolele puse în calea ta, îți este oferită o alegere. Alegerea de a accepta trecutul, de a face pace cu tine, de a ierta și de a alege viața.

”Mă tem că tuturor ni se întîmplă lucruri rele. Asta nu se va schimba niciodată. Dacă te uiți în certificatul tău de naștere, oare vezi acolo că viața o să-ți fie ușoară? Nu scrie așa ceva. Dar atât de mulți oameni rămân blocați în traumă sau suferință , incapabili să-și trăiască viața din plin. Acesta este lucrul pe care-l putem schimba. Recent, am început să studiez chipurile oamenilor care treceau pe lângă mine. Ceea ce am văzut m-a emoționat profund. Am văzut plictiseală, furie, tensiune, îngrijorare, confuzie, descurajare, dezamăgire, tristețe, și, cel mai tulburător sentiment dintre toate, pustietate.
M-a întristat foarte mult să văd așa de puțină bucurie și atât de puține râsete. Chiar și cele mai plictisitoare momente din viața noastră reprezintă oportunități de a trăi speranța, efervescența, fericirea. Și viața banală tot viață este. Chiar dureroasă și stresantă cum e. De ce ne luptăm adeseori atât de tare ca să simțim că trăim sau ne îndepărtăm de a le simți pe deplin că trăim? De ce e o așa provocare să dai viață vieții?”

”Poate că fiecare copilărie este terenul pe care încercăm să punctăm cât de mult contăm și cât de mult nu contăm, o hartă pe care studiem dimensiunile și granițele valorii noastre. ”

”Cât de ușor o viață poate deveni o litanie de vină și regret, un cântec care continuă să răsune, cântat de același cor, despre neputința de a ne ierta pe noi înșine. Cât de ușor devine viața pe care n-o trăim singura viață pe care o prețuim. Cât de ușor suntem seduși de fantezia că deținem controlul, că am deținut mereu controlul, că lucrurile pe care am fi putut să le facem sau să le spunem ar avea puterea, numai dacă le-am fi spus sau le-am fi făcut, de a vindeca durerea, de a șterge suferința, de a face să dispară pierderile suferit, cât de ușor putem să ne agățăm de- să venerăm-alegerile pe care puteam sau ar fi trebuit să le facem.”

”Timpul nu vindecă, ci ceea ce faci tu cu timpul. Vindecarea este posibilă când alegem să ne asumăm responsabilitatea, când alegem să ne asumăm riscuri și, în cele din urmă, când alegem să ne eliberăm de răni, să lăsăm deoparte trecutul sau durerea.”

"Poate că vindecarea nu înseamnă să ștergi cu buretele cicatricea. Vindecarea este prețuirea rănii."

"Nu putem alege să spulberăm întunericul, dar putem alege să întețim lumina."

"Poate că fiecare viață este un studiu despre lucrurile pe care nu le avem, dar pe care am vrea să le avem, și al lucrurilor pe care le avem, dar am vrea să nu le fi avut."
Profile Image for Leila.
442 reviews209 followers
May 22, 2019
This is for me, an unforgettable book which I will go back to many times. It is full of such pain, honesty, truth and many more emotions which are threading through the full story. The terrible experiences of a Jewish girl taken prisoner by the Nazis and sent to their prison camps, especially Auschwitz is told during the first part of the book but then there is so much wisdom, humanity, love, pain and understanding throughout the second part. It is not an easy book to review for there is so much. It is most certainly a special book, a unique book and a book I heartily recommend to readers who like true depth in a read. It took me a long time to read it and it was not a book I could read straight through. There is so much to stop and ponder upon. There are other reviews much better and more detailed than mine. Do read them for this is surely not a book to be missed.
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