Lilo's Reviews > With Love, The Argentina Family: Memories of Tango and Kugel; Mate with Knishes

With Love, The Argentina Family by Mirta Ines Trupp
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really liked it
bookshelves: memoir, jewish-culture, argentinian-culture, coming-of-age-story
Recommended for: everyone

After reading several Holocaust memoirs, I wanted to know how “normal” Jews live, Jews whose ancestors had emigrated from Europe before Hitler had a chance to murder them in gas chambers, Jews who had not lost any immediate family in the Holocaust.

Mirta Trupp’s memoir was the right book for me to read. It taught me a lot. First of all, it made me realize that while there are “normal” Jews, there is, obviously and sadly, no normal life for Jews. It starts with Mirta’s ancestors migrating from Prussia to Lithuania to the Ukraine, without finding a place where they could permanently live in peace. It continues with Mirta’s great-grandparents, some time around 1909, fleeing from pogroms, trekking from the Ukraine through Western Europe to Hamburg in order to board a ship that — God-willing — would take them to the shores of Argentina where the Rothschild family, along with other prominent Jews, had arranged for Jews of Eastern Europe to settle in under-populated agricultural areas. Yet again, there was no long-lasting peace. Even though the Jews had done their best to become patriotic Argentinians, they soon met again with anti-Semitism, violence, and even cold-blooded murder.

It was in this situation that Mirta’s father decided to leave Argentina and immigrate to the United States, the land of freedom and unlimited possibilities. He left for Norte America when Mirta was eight months old and had his reluctant wife and baby daughter follow soon after. He worked hard and did well and was happy and content to live in America. However, Mirta’s mother was very family-oriented, and her parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, and, and, and, and, and … lived in Argentina. Lucky for her, Mirta’s father got a job with Pan America Airlines, which enabled the Trupp family to fly almost for free. Mirta’s mother made utmost use of this possiblity, and Mirta was dragged back and forth between the U.S. and Argentina. And this is what this book is mainly about — growing up torn between 3 cultures.

Was Mirta American, or was she Argentinian, or was she — first and foremost — Jewish? She was trying to find out. For the Argentina family, she was American, but also Jewish. For the American Jews, she was Argentinian. For the American gentiles, she was Jewish or, maybe, just odd. Go figure. Isn’t coming of age hard enough without triple identity?

Luckily, Mirta had a positive outlook on life and found her way. It wasn't easy. And it should also be mentioned that even here in America, Mirta had some nasty encounters with anti-Semites.

What particularly impressed me about this memoir was the genuine love all these relatives had for one another. I have never experienced any such love amongst any kinship, and certainly not among my relatives. And while this love for extended family, as depicted in Mirta’s book, is the most heartfelt I have ever come across in any society, I found similar in Holocaust memoirs. I have found Jewish people to be very special. I think they are in average more intelligent, more good natured, and more loving than other nationalities and ethnic groups. Call me a fervent pro-Semite. :-)

Why do I rate this memoir only 4 stars? About two-thirds into the book, my head was swirling with more and more relatives and friends and social get togethers. For a while the book read a bit like a YA book. Other than that, I very much enjoyed the book. It is well written, and I also learned a lot about the Jewish and the Argentinian culture. I even learned some Spanish, which I plan to try out on our Mexican household help, who doesn’t speak a word of English.

All in all, I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes memoirs, likes coming-of-age stories, likes immigration stories, is interested in Jewish culture and Jewish family life, plans to travel to Argentina at some time or, sadly, doesn’t see the slightest chance to travel to Argentina at whatever time. And if you don’t fit into any of the aforementioned groups, read this book anyway. It is heart-warming.


P.S. February 5, 2019: I wonder how the author feels now under our xenophobic administration. Mind you, I am sure she has U.S. citizenship; however, citizenship has rarely protected anyone against racism. It certainly didn't during the Holocaust.
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Reading Progress

February 17, 2014 – Shelved
April 23, 2014 – Started Reading
April 27, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael A pleasure for me to experience your satisfaction with this one. I could never figure out which comes first, a strength in family bonds which eases the alienation and disruptive power of discrimination and disruption of immigrant status, or the sense of being exiled that feeds the reliance on family ties.


message 2: by Lilo (last edited May 04, 2014 02:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Michael wrote: "A pleasure for me to experience your satisfaction with this one. I could never figure out which comes first, a strength in family bonds which eases the alienation and disruptive power of discrimin..."

Thank you, Michael. I have never been so lucky as to experience strong family bonds. Except for a few bonds between individuals, my relatives did not really like each other. And my husband's family has acted in a way that we eventually -- far too late -- cut all ties. Our family is now my husband, I, and our 31 cats and 2 dogs.

To read about this genuine love between so many members of extended family was wonderful. I would have always liked a lot of relatives to love. However, it takes two to tango -- or when it comes to extended family, not only two but quite a few more.

While neither my husband nor I were blessed with kinship that had much love for one another, it was nice to learn that such loving and even far-reaching family bonds exist.

As to immigration situations: I never had any problem as an immigrant in Canada, and we don't have any problems as immigrants here in the U.S. But I never went to school here. -- This might have been different. My daughter, born in Canada, had difficulties in school when we returned to Germany from Canada. (My daughter was then 8 years old.) Yet these difficulties were caused by her Catholic nun teacher who disliked her for being Lutheran. She kept harassing her. My daughter was harassed for handwriting that had been taught a little differently in Canada and for writing a little slower than her classmates. (She only understood about 50 words of German when she started grade 3, and she was also left-handed.) This teacher's continuous harassment resulted in some classmates to gang up against my daughter. My daughter suffered this situation for 2 years until she could be transferred to high school.


Lilo Thanks for all the LIKEs.


message 4: by Correen (new)

Correen Great review. Sounds a bit like my husband's family except that they finally settled in S.Africa, Argentina, Canada, England, and the United States. Many now are in Israel and none remain in Argentina.


message 5: by Linda (new)

Linda I really enjoyed your review, Lilo. The book sounds like a good supplement to all the WWII stories that many of us devour.


Mirta Ines Trupp Michael wrote: "A pleasure for me to experience your satisfaction with this one. I could never figure out which comes first, a strength in family bonds which eases the alienation and disruptive power of discrimin..."

Excellent insight Michael. You've hit the nail on the head exactly. I can't answer this question, even after all these years however; I feel truly blessed by the love, tenacity and sense of family that surrounded me.


Mirta Ines Trupp Thank you Lilo for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your point of view. My book indeed is a rare mixture of culture and history, a bit of romance and first love experiences, faith and finding oneself. I sense that you truly "got it" and I am grateful for the time you spent sharing my journey.


Lilo Thank you, Correen. So did you still keep in touch with all your husband's family?


Lilo Linda wrote: "I really enjoyed your review, Lilo. The book sounds like a good supplement to all the WWII stories that many of us devour."

Thank you, Linda. This book is, indeed, a good supplement to all the WWII stories and Holocaust memoirs. I needed to meet some "normal" Jews :-) for a change.


message 10: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Mirta wrote: "Thank you Lilo for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your point of view. My book indeed is a rare mixture of culture and history, a bit of romance and first love experiences, faith and find..."

Hi, Mirtita :-),

I'm glad you found the review. I had been so busy that I hadn't had time to let you know I had written and posted it.


message 11: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Thanks for all the new LIKEs.


message 12: by Sonia (new)

Sonia Gomes Hi Lilo

Lovely review, but if you want to take a break from all the horrors of holocaust, read Inside Outside by Herman Wouk and Midnight River both very beautiful books about Jewish way of life.


message 13: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Sonia wrote: "Hi Lilo

Lovely review, but if you want to take a break from all the horrors of holocaust, read Inside Outside by Herman Wouk and Midnight River both very beautiful books about Jewish way of life."


Thank you, Sonia. I'll check out these books.


Mirta Ines Trupp Lilo wrote: "Linda wrote: "I really enjoyed your review, Lilo. The book sounds like a good supplement to all the WWII stories that many of us devour."

Thank you, Linda. This book is, indeed, a good supplement..."


I'm smiling thinking of my Argentina family as "normal" :-) Of course, going through 5 passports before the age of twenty-two is not "normal", either! I had an interesting upbringing, to say the least.


message 15: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo @ Mirta:

Well, what's "normal"? It's probably not normal to be normal. Come to think of it, I know very few (actually only VERY, VERY FEW) people who are normal. This makes normal people the exception. So does this exception qualify to be called "normal"? -- You tell me!

Maybe we should ask a philosopher. :-)


message 16: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Thanks for all the new LIKEs.


message 17: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Thanks for all the new LIKEs.


message 18: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Thanks for the new LIKEs.


message 19: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Thanks for the new LIKE.


message 20: by Robert (new)

Robert Brown Lilo,
I very much enjoyed reading your review. It was thoughtful, concise, insightful objective,and well written. And, you explained your thinking.
Bob


message 21: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Robert wrote: "Lilo,
I very much enjoyed reading your review. It was thoughtful, concise, insightful objective,and well written. And, you explained your thinking.
Bob"


Thank you very much, Bob. It is always nice to get some positive feed-back.


message 22: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Thanks for the new LIKEs.


message 23: by Lilo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lilo Thanks for the LIKE. Giuliana.


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