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A Smile in One Eye: a Tear in the Other

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  203 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Librarian's Note: This is an alternate-cover edition for ASIN B01HRZ13O2

The Third Reich is rising. The creeping madness in the heart of Germany will soon stain the entire world. This is the chilling account of one family as they flee for their lives.

The Wobsers are prosperous, churchgoing, patriotic Germans living in a small East Prussian town. When Hitler seizes power,
Kindle Edition, 373 pages
Published January 2017 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (first published June 28th 2016)
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Henry Sheppard
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of an old man remembering his youth, back to 1927 in Germany. He lived a peaceful small-town existence, one which was increasingly disrupted as the Nazis took control. He made his escape to the West at age 16 in 1938. The rest of the book deals with his life there and the survival (or not) tales of the rest of his family.

My father was a 16 year old in 1939, except he lived in Warsaw. The Nazis invaded Poland, shot his father, and took him back to Germany as a slave for the dura
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautifully-written, touching story. I found this book deeply compelling, with themes that resonant so closely with the struggles we're facing today. "A Smile in One Eye" traces one family's journey from a comfortable, privileged life to one where they are forced into becoming refugees at the onset of World War II. It was fascinated to listen to Jerry's voice as he grappled with the discovery that, though he was raised as a Lutheran, his country had determined that he was Jewish based on ...more
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you read the blurb, then this book does exactly what it says on the tin- a look into history with a very personal touch. The story is mainly an account from Ralph Webster’s father who recalls his life from an early age until the time he set sail for America after the war. Peppered in between Ralph’s father’s story are chapters by Ralph which gives us a more recent and overall look into who his father was as a man and how as a family they continue to deal with difficult situations. But this bo ...more
audrey esposito
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author Ralph Webster dedicates his book "To those who must flee their homelands for reasons that make not sense. Let you journey to a kinder place to live in freedom and find a better life". This book eloquently chronicles his family's journey is beautifully told through the voice of his father, Jerry.
The journey in search of freedom, dignity, security and opportunity begins after being forced from their home in an East Prussian town by the Third Reich and Hitler's terror. The Wobser family,
Michael Patterson
"A Smile in One Eye" is the deeply personal account of one young man coming to age as a Jew in Germany while World War II looms on the horizon. This true story offers unavoidable comparisons to the cycles of forced emigration that history has so often repeated, and does so in a manner that allows for the reader to understand both the pain experienced as families are separated and the incredible strength of will that so many demonstrate under terrible circumstances. "A Smile in One Eye" is simult ...more
Tears come easy

This is one of the best books I have ever read. As an American we cannot imagine the horrific life.
Marsha Ramsay
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently read A Smile in One Eye by Ralph Webster. I believe a good book should be a compelling story about the principal characters. In this case, they are the author's father and grandfather, who come across as remarkable human beings facing terrible threats to their lives in 1930s Nazi Germany.
Both face the horror that who they are as human beings no longer matters. Their only identity in this grotesque society is as Jews, all of whom have been labeled racial enemies of the Third Reich. Bot
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in two all night binges. I could not put it down, it was so compelling. The emotional journey of the Wobster family from post World War I Germany, through the Holocaust and beyond is gut wrenching, touching, funny and relevant – all at the same time. From the first pages, we love this entire family – especially the author’s parents Jerry and Mela. The juxtaposing of the past with Jerry’s illness in the present is particularly effective. This is a tale of a family’s love and devo ...more
Nicole Morton
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is excellent! The author does a wonderful job describing the 3rd Reich's racial persecution of this family. Despite the family being strongly patriotic Germans and practicing Christians, they are unable to hide their Jewish heritage. As a result of Hitler's plan for a pure Arian race, each member of this wonderful, loving, and deeply connected family will experience their own tragedy. Their devotion will be the driving force to find each other again after the war.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, particularly since the author's sister is a dear friend of mine. Ralph Webster moves between the present day, as he watches his father struggle after heart surgery, to the past, as we watch that same father grow up in East Prussia as World War II approaches. This detailed personal account of watching the war approach gave me one of the more interesting perspectives I have had to date on being a Jew in Germany. First, I never realized how shocked many people were to fi ...more
Coleen Dailey
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was interested in this book initially because it is the story of a young Jewish boy raised as a Lutheran. It is much more than that. It is the story of family during the worst time to live in Germany. A family that has a Jewish heritage but does not consider themselves Jewish as they do not follow that faith but their government considers them that because of their ethnicity. They are of the upper middle class and lose everything and it becomes a fight to survive. It is a story of how the live ...more
Kerry Ann
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This true story book was introduced to me by a long time friend and neighbor whose cousin wrote the book. And she is in it.
The German Wobser family lived during the week in the city and their country farm on weekends. I loved all the details of that life. Soon they were watching the confusing war approach during which they realized they were being considered Jews and that they were in trouble.
Stories of all the family are told through the author’s father Gerald Wobster. Where and how each sis
Diane Rohan
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful and well-written story of a special family. My only regret is I will only know Jerry through the reading (and re-reading) of this book. I highly recommend it.
Carmen Werning
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

Another great book about life during WWII. So much learning about the times and what the perspective was from people that lived it.
Terre Short
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was so relevant to the world right now (unfortunately) and I found the two voices to be charming. Thank you for writing your family’s story! So important and quite well done.
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This work contains life. Author Ralph Webster puts the reader in the conversation of his father sharing day to day existence in Germany during the rise of Hitler. It is about making-do and the makings of history, about minutiae as well as major moments.
• "Certain events are remembered for a lifetime. ... Father's fiftieth birthday in 1931 was one of those times." (a day in the life)
• "... the events of 1933 sowed the seeds that fundamentally changed our future." (a historical turning point)

Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war-history
I do not regret that I spent last days of 2016 on reading A Smile in One Eye, A Tear in the Other because the book was the biggest surprise of the last year!
We need more books like A Smile in One Eye, A Tear in the Other because an accounts of people who survived unbelievable atrocities of the World War II should not be forgotten. Survivors and those who lost their lives deserve the highest respect. Moreover, we should never trivialize what people are capable because the history has showed us m
Name Annie
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A Smile in One Eye a Tear in the Other by Ralph Webster
The courage and resilience of individuals to survive one of history’s most horrifying times—the tumultuous violence of the Nazi regime—has been depicted through numerous narratives and films. But stories, recounted by actual family members of those shocking times, oftimes help define one’s self and find meaning in one’s life. So it is with Ralph Webster. He relates the absorbing story of family members in their quest to escape, and survive, a regime that defines them by their Jewish bloodlin
John Hearne
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book "a Smile in one Eye - a Tear in the Other" by Ralph Webster touched me on several levels. First I was deeply moved on how a prominent family, one that supported their community and country in wartime and peacetime could suddenly and almost without warning, be labeled as a group no longer tolerated in their own country. The story of the systematic elimination of their rights and assets was particularly hard hitting. We all learned about WWII during school, but I was fascinated about the ...more
Rose Grandy
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book during a power outage from hurricane Matthew. I found myself reading by candle light as I couldn't stop. The writer did an amazing job of having the reader create a "bond" with all of the family members and a personal connection with their lives. Lives of everyday people being systematically dismantled in the name of greed an sovereign take over by Hitler. I am reminded while reading how recently this took place. Martin L. King said "If you put a frog in hot water it will hop ou ...more
Fran Toolan
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is much more complex than the description suggests. The author suggests it was prompted by the Syrian refugee situation, that he wanted to tell the story of people who had everything taken from them and were forced to leave their homes, family, and possessions behind.

The author tells the story of a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life and turned out to be the father of just the normal family next door. It is the story of the author's father's life as a German Jew growing up in wh
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other" is a truly powerful and captivating story that compels the reader from the beginning. Author Ralph Webster shares a personal retelling of the incredible, and true, struggles of his father - a young man coming of age - Jew by birth who was raised Episcopalian, and family in Nazi Germany during the onset of WW II and what transpires.

The comparisons to the difficulties of the cycle of other, including today's immigrants, are unmistakable. The fear, courage,
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as a book club selection. Since our group has read many WW II Holacaust books,
I expected this to be more of the same. It wasn't. It provided me with information that was new,
characters that I truly cared about and new insight into a much written about period.

Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is well written, very enjoyable and in no way depressing despite the World War 2 holocaust subject matter. You can read my blogpost on it ...more
Wanda Keith
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an amazing read. The story is about a family in Germany who seem to have a wonderful life. There are three sisters and a brother who are adored by loving parents who have worked very hard to give their children a good life. The problem is that they live during the time that Hitler came to power and they have Jewish blood. It is hard to even imagine what this family and millions of others went through in Nazi Germany but the story told by Ralph W ...more
Padgett Gerler
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A SMILE IN ONE EYE:A TEAR IN THE OTHER is part coming-of-age story, part memoir, part history lesson—and all great.

Inspired by the current political refugee tragedy, Ralph Webster has written his father’s memoir (in his father’s voice) from his charmed childhood in Eastern Europe to his Lutheran family’s forced exile because of its Jewish heritage. Interspersed among the father Gerhard Wobser’s memoir are the author’s personal chapters, recounting his dealing with his father’s declining health.
Pearl Kirkby
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has taken me entirely too long to write this review, I know. My sincerest apologies to author, Ralph Webster, whose generosity in providing me with a copy deserves far better from me. I just wanted to make sure that I did this wonderful memoir the justice that it is due. I've done my best, but it isn't near all that I wanted to say.

I call this story, "a Smile in One Eye...", a memoir. And so it is, but it is not the memories of the author himself, at least not all of it. Let us say that Ralph
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I saw the author at a local book club meeting, and as a fellow "later in life author," I was fascinated to hear about his writing process, research and publishing process, etc. I also found his stories interesting and poignant. I enjoyed this book very much. Though there were times that it was repetitive, this actually helped me keep up with the characters at times. I very much cared about the various characters and where their paths led. This was a more subtle and deeply personal view into the ...more
JoJo Ames
I wanted to like this memoir better than I did. The use of first person narrative for Webster's father, as well as for his own experiences leading up to and after his father's surgery was confusing. I appreciated the honesty in sharing the family's experiences during WW2, but often the author's style seemed redundant to me. I've read worse, but I've also read better.
Gary D. Derifield
Excellent. Interestingly written about a German family that were of Jewish heritage, but Christians. The time line starts before WWII when Hitler was coming into power. This is a true story with lots of insight into the complexity of WWII.
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Award winning author Ralph Webster received worldwide acclaim for his first book, A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other, which tells the story of his father’s flight from the Holocaust. Voted by readers as a Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards Nominee for Best Memoir/Autobiography, A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other and his second book, One More Moon, are proven book club selections for thought-pr ...more

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