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Claiming My Place: Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust

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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  135 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Young adult nonfiction about a young Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by moving into Nazi Germany and hiding in plain sight.

Gucia Gomolinska grew up comfortably in Piotrkow, Poland, a devoted student, sister, daughter, and friend. Still, even in the years before World War II, she faced discrimination as a Jew—but with her ash-blond hair she was often able to pass as
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  135 ratings  ·  41 reviews


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Irene
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Claiming My Place: Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust by Planaria Price enables readers of all ages to experience the horrors of that terrible time as if we, too, were living in Poland in the 30’s and early 40’s when Hitler came to power. Price has a gift for rendering everyday detail meaningful, and she is able to capture Barbara’s voice as if she were telling her own story directly to us—as if we were sitting in a living room with an old woman recalling the happiness of her early ...more
Bill Fowler
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Totally surprised by this book! While I do have severe ADHD, and struggle with reading anything longer than a couple of pages, I was pleasantly surprised. It was so skillfully written, that it paints such a visual picture and creates an emotional feeling that made it so easy for me to stay with. I appreciate all of the work that went into this book, because now I really feel a bit like I was there - that I have witnessed the experience first-hand. And it feels like it came from the heart of ...more
Amy
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Claiming My Place: Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust is a special read. It is a memoir of a Holocaust survivor. She tells a story of her family life growing up, the rise of anti-Semitism in her homeland, World War II and the years after. As a young woman of Jewish Heritage, she had to do everything possible to survive. My heart ache for her and her family.
I would give Claiming My Place: Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust 100 stars if I could. I highly recommend this book.
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Annette
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My Thoughts:
Several reasons led me to award this book an excellent rating:
•A detailed account of Barbara Reichmann, from age 6 until post World War II. The book encompasses her home life, parents, siblings, neighborhood, hometown, schools, and university life. In addition, her plight of survival during the war. And, post World War II life: displacement.
•A strong teaching on the Jewish traditions, religion, holidays, and festivals. I enjoyed reading about the foods eaten during Passover, as well
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Jathan Fink
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A young woman with a bright future ahead of her finds herself trapped at the epicenter of the Holocaust. Using her wits as her only weapon, she is compelled to make a choice that will become her most closely guarded secret, one that will change the very trajectory of her life. Who is Barbara Reichmann? Find out in the unforgettable true story, Claiming My Place.

Growing up as a Jew in a mostly Catholic Poland during the 1920s and 30s, Gucia Gomolinska is bright, tenacious, independent and
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Justyna
Apr 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
I seized upon this book with great interest as it was about the town that my grandfather (himself a survivor of Auschwitz) and father grew up in (Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland). So I was super pumped about reading a book about someone who grew up in the same town and same era as my own grandfather.

The feeling didn't last long. About a third through the book, the author starts making basic spelling and translation mistakes. For example, the author writes about anti-Semitic signs at the Warsaw
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Barbara
Based on the true story of Gucia Gomolinska, this book tells yet another of those almost-lost stories from the Holocaust, and I am certainly glad that it does. I'd never heard anything about someone who hid right under the Germans' noses the way she managed to do once Hitler comes into power. Gucia grew up in Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland during the 1920s and 1930s. Because of her fair skin and blonde hair, she often escapes notice from those looking for Jews. Eventually as the Nazis move into ...more
Lisa of Hopewell
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
The Story

A young Jewish girl in Poland grows up in the 1920s and 1930s during the rise of anti-antisemitism and the coming to power of the Nazis in Germany. Blessed with blonde hair she changes her name and hides in plain sight to survive. Along the way she tells the story of her education, her interest in Zionism and of the events happening around her to restrict and then end the lives of Europe’s Jews.
My Thoughts

This is a memoir for young people and is while sensitively written, it neither
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David
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Claiming My Place: Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust doesn't directly provide details of experiences in any of the work or death camps. Instead the author, Planaria Price, tells the personal story of a Polish girl named Gucia Gomolinska who grew up and lived there before and during the Nazi occupation. The information given to the author came to her from Gucia's granddaughter, Helen West. She experienced the increasingly oppressive anti-Jewish laws passed and describes how it affected ...more
DeniseF
Claiming My Place was a fascinating read! It provides an intimate look at the life of Barbara Reichmann (formerly Gucia Gomolinska) in the years leading up to, during, and after World War II. Barbara's tale of survival was extraordinary and so different than anything I've read before.

One of my favorite parts about this book was all of the background information. I really appreciated getting the full story on who Barbara was as a child and her home and family life leading up to the war. There was
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Hannah
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

Really more like 3.5 stars.

While I've read a number of books about the Holocaust, this is the first I've read that is a first-person account of someone who survived by posing as a non-Jew. That aspect of the book is excellently done. It's based on interviews with Basia (the main character), and the author does a good job conveying her thoughts and feelings. The first 1/3 of the book is dedicated to her early life - it starts in 1st grade, while she's in
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Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Claiming My Place by Planaria Price and Helen Reichmann West, 250 pages. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018. $18.

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When World War II began, Barbara and her family lived in the Jewish community of Piotrkow in Poland. As the war developed, more and more restrictions were placed on her family and it became evident that the Jews were being removed from their homes. Barbara, formerly known
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Jean Worland
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I am so happy to give my kudos to Ms. Planaria Price's wondrous tome. From the very beginning, I was drawn into this true story of an account of the life of Barbara Reichman, aka Gucia Comolinska, as a child growing up in Poland. As a matter of fact, I could hardly put it down from start to finish because Planaria was so adept at drawing in the reader in to care deeply about Gucia/Barbara as well as her family and friends from beginning to end. As a Christian, my heart broke for this dear Jewish
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Anne
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
This is the biography of Gucia Gomolinska, aka Danuta Barbara Basia Tanska Reichmann. She was a Jew who grew up in Poland in the 1920's and 30's. When the horrors of Hitler's regime started, she had to decide if she would face the atrocities of concentration camps or try to hide. She decided to hide in plain sight as she was fortunate enough to have blonde hair and blue eyes, so she pretended not to be a Jew in order to survive. I always find Holocaust books fascinating and this was no
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Margaret
Gucia grows up during the 1920-30s in Poland and this YA memoir tells her story as Hitler and his party rise to power. We know the horrible things that happen to Jews and her circle is not immune.

I went the audio route and am glad I did. It was an enjoyable story (though that does sound kinda horrible to say), but told in the first person it was like she was telling me her story. What a story it was, she does not hold back when describing the years as Hilter rises in power and its impact on her
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Judith Prager
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A marvel of storytelling, the moreso because it is true! How amazing that a young Jewish Polish girl was able to amass the courage to hide in the belly of the beast, taking a new identity and working in Germany as her homeland is invaded and the Jews sent to camps. We read this history, up close and personal, and it will widen the eyes of young girls everywhere as they watch Basha, threatened with uncertainty, bombs, betrayals, losses of all kinds, rape threats and indignities, find the ...more
Jeanie
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 stars

This true story is well written and a real page turner. Although I grew up Jewish with Orthodox grandparents, I was really surprised at how much I didn't know about Jewish life and traditions at the time before WW2. It's a wonderful read about an incredibly strong person and an important history of what normal Jewish life was like before the Holocaust and the details of the terrors during. The afterword by the daughter, Helen, tells the often untold story of what life was like for the
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Leo Rem
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am very grateful to Planaria Price for writing this amazing book. Through her writing I travelled to Poland with Gucha before the Second World War and lived with her family. I experienced the delicious tastes of Jewish traditional meals, learned about the life of Jewish communities, and fell in love with all her family! This book is truly captivating — a joy to experience. The part of the book where Barbara (Gucha) survives Nazism is especially thrilling. You will get very emotional, from ...more
Sandy
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book reads like historical fiction, but is the true story of Barbara Reichmann (born Sura Gitla Gomolinska) who survived the Holocaust in Poland. Based in interviews with Barbara and her daughter (co-author Helen West), the narrative draws the reader in to the horrors of the time. Raised in a prominent Jewish family, Barbara takes on an alternative identity as a non-Jew in order to survive. Always staying one step ahead of the Nazis & neighbors who would give her up, Barbara’s story is ...more
Zenobia Neil
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Claiming My Place is an incredible tale of resilience. I learned so much about the past and felt as if I were living Barbara/ Guicia's life. It was especially interesting to see what life was like for Polish Jews before World War II. This book is both heartbreaking and a tale of courage. It was also fascinating to read about Guicia going into Germany to escape the Nazis. Stories of the Holocaust are always important to read, and I like how this one has a very different perspective, and is ...more
Liz
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have turned away from Holocaust novels and movies in the last few years, as I feel I have been overwhelmed. But this story of a survivor provides new information that I have not seen before on exactly how some Jews were able to hide their Jewishness; and how life outside of the Jewish community went on pretty much as usual. It also contains the story of a woman who survived, who raised a family, and found some happiness in life despite her many losses. Additionally, the book is so clearly and ...more
Ettak
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This memoir recounts one young woman's courage, determination and luck to survive through the Nazi occupation of Poland.
This book was classified as Young Adult biography in my library system.
I loved how the recording and telling of this memoir came into being.
One can never truly fully comprehend the horrors and far-reaching impact of the Nazi regime on all the lives and families it impacted. This one story reminds one to think of the millions of other lives.
Ms. Yingling
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Personal Copy

This will be a good addition to the WWII/Holocaust collection in my library that is heavily used for 8th grade units on this topic. I don't have too much set in Poland. Will go nicely with Nielsen's Resistance.

Personally, I think I need to take a break from this topic! I've just read so many books on it!
Nick
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read many holocaust survivor books. This one is the most detailed regarding the Jewish religion and their rituals. I loved hearing about it all. Loved hearing about her town in Poland also. And her grit and perseverance as a young women. I will make sure my kids read this one. I wish I could have met her.
Jim Borman
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredible melding of early 20th century war and Jewish history and culture with the unique daily life of Ms Reichmann. What an experience to meet someone at a restaurant at Big Sur during a heavy storm and learning about this powerful life story. Highly recommended.
Barbara J.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read of a holocaust survivor

One of the best Holocaust memoirs written in my opinion. Barbara tells her story from early childhood on. Told well in first person. I may read this one again!
Celeste
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Interesting story about a brave woman who survived Poland and the Holocaust during WWII. There is a lot of details about the Jewish culture and it took me a while to get into it, but I am always interested to learn about different people and perspectives during the war.
Martha
Although Price’s writing style isn’t particularly artful, the story of Barbara Reichmann’s survival in World War II is so compelling that it doesn’t need literary flourishes to be a page-turner. Suspenseful, astonishing, heart-breaking, and inspiring.
Lucy Meeker
This is a gripping piece of non-fiction. Informative & well written. This is an excellent mid-range choice for introducing readers of all ages to a sad piece of history that we must hope we never repeat.
Stella
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Claiming My Place is an enjoyable and suspenseful memoir of a Holocaust survivor that I definitely and highly recommend! It’s beautifully written in the first person and the fears and emotions involved in Barbara’s risks she had to take to survive makes you not want to put the book down!
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After graduating from Berkeley and earning a Master's Degree in English Literature from UCLA, Planaria Price began her career teaching English to adult immigrants in Los Angeles. She has written several "out of the box" textbooks and lectured at over 100 conferences. In 2012, after the public ESL program was completely defunded, she sadly had to retire after having taught for 40 years. In addition ...more