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The survivors : a story of war, inheritance, and healing

Frankel, Adam P (author.).

Available copies

  • 3 of 3 copies available at BC Interlibrary Connect. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Prince Rupert Library.

Current holds

0 current holds with 3 total copies.

Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Holdable? Status Due Date
Prince Rupert Library 940.5318092 Fran (Text) 33294002080257 Adult Non-Fiction Volume hold Available -

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780062258588
  • ISBN: 0062258583
  • Physical Description: print
    regular print
    xiv, 271 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Publisher: New York, New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2019]

Content descriptions

Summary, etc.: A memoir of family, the Holocaust, trauma, and identity, in which Adam Frankel, a former Obama speechwriter, must come to terms with the legacy of his family's painful past and discover who he is in the wake of a life-changing revelation about his own origins. Adam Frankel's maternal grandparents survived the Holocaust and built new lives, with new names, in Connecticut. Though they tried to leave the horrors of their past behind, the pain they suffered crossed generational lines--a fact most apparent in the mental health of Adam's mother. When Adam sat down with her to examine their family history in detail, he learned another shocking secret, this time one that unraveled Adam's entire understanding of who he is. In the midst of piecing together a story of inherited familial trauma, Adam discovered he was only half of who he thought he was, knowledge that raised essential questions of identity. Who was he, if not his father's son? If not part of a rich heritage of writers and public servants? Does it matter? What defines a family's bonds? What will he pass on to his own children? To rewrite his story in truth and to build a life for his own young family, Adam had to navigate his pain to find answers and a way forward. Throughout this journey into the past, his family's psyche, and his own understanding of identity, Adam comes to realize that while the nature of our families' traumas may vary, each of us is faced with the same choice. We can turn away from what we've inherited--or, we can confront it, in the hopes of moving on and stopping that trauma from inflicting pain on future generations. The stories Adam shares with us in The Survivors are about the ways the past can haunt our future, the resilience that can be found on the other side of trauma, and the good that can come from things that are unspeakably bad.
Subject: Frankel, Adam P -- Family
Grandchildren of Holocaust survivors -- Biography
Holocaust survivors -- Biography
Holocaust survivors' families -- Biography

  • Kirkus Reviews : Kirkus Reviews 2019 September #1
    A debut memoir about "the ways the trauma of the Holocaust has reverberated through the generations of [the author's] family." Frankel, a former speechwriter for Barack Obama, focuses first on his maternal grandparents, who not only managed to survive the Nazi death camps, but also thrived, on the surface at least, after their arrival in the United States a few years after the end of World War II. They settled in New Haven, Connecticut, where they ran a jewelry store specializing in watch repair. As the author learned incremental details about their experiences, his respect and adoration for his grandparents only grew. The dominant character in the family chronicle, however, is Frankel's mother, Ellen, a functional career woman but emotionally unstable individual. Ellen grew up understandably marked by the survival saga of her parents, and Frankel speculates about how being the devoted daughter of Holocaust survivors affected Ellen. "All of the drama, the volatility, hardly seemed Mom's fault," he writes. "She was, I knew, at the mercy of her emotions, subject to their fickle swings." The author also looks inward to determine what his family's experiences mean for him as a Jew growing up in a less perilous environment. For students of American politics and history, Frankel's apprenticeship with John F. Kennedy confidant Ted Sorensen and later work for Obama provide welcome relief from the otherwise relentless emotional roller coaster. Frankel's marriage and fatherhood add further poignancy to the narrative, and his well-delineated portraits of his cousins, aunts, uncles, and their extended families provide helpful context to the dramatic family saga. It's a unique addition to the literature of personal accounts that keep the memory of the Holocaust alive at a time when it is "getting harder to teach young people about [it] because the most compelling instructors—survivors—are all passing away." An emotionally powerful multigenerational memoir. Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
  • Library Journal Reviews : LJ Reviews 2019 September

    Frankel, an adviser to the Emerson Collective and former speechwriter for Barack Obama, debuts with a distinct account that is part history of the Holocaust, part memoir of a parent living with mental illness, and a behind-the-scenes look at the first Obama campaign and administration. Frankel's maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Family stories and research in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum archives detail their horrific experiences. The trauma of surviving the Holocaust negatively affected his American-born mother's long-term mental health. Though his mother and father divorced when he was young, he remained close to both parents and both sets of grandparents. When he finished college, he began to ask his mother hard questions about his parentage. What he learned left him reeling just as he was embarking on an outwardly successful professional and personal life. Here, he honestly recounts this difficult journey of relearning identity and belonging. VERDICT Readers of biography, history, and politics, and those interested in the effects of trauma on subsequent generations, will appreciate this thoughtful book. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/19.]—Laurie Unger Skinner, Highland Park P.L., IL

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal.
  • PW Annex Reviews : Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

    In this clear-eyed memoir, former Obama speech writer Frankel portrays family members shattered by the Holocaust, including his own. As a child in the 1980s, Frankel frequently talked with his mother's parents, Holocaust survivors Rivkah (Bubbie) and Abraham (Zayde), about how they assumed new identities after the war, among other open secrets: "Secrets are something of a family tradition," he notes. When Frankel was a young adult, his mother became increasing unstable, and, he observes, "I couldn't shake the feeling that Mom's life, and my own, had been shaped by the Holocaust." He decided to study Holocaust trauma theories, in part to understand what he believed to be the "soul wounds" she'd inherited. Frankel's digging into his mother's past eventually revealed the "toxic secret" that his biological father was a family friend, and that he was the product of an affair. As Frankel hurls head-first into an identity crisis, he feels as if his "whole life had been a lie"; traumatized, he "suddenly felt a strange new kinship with Bubbie and Zayde." He's overtaken by rage and debilitating anxiety attacks; the healing commenced only as he began to understand his paternal relationships and his mother's fragile mental state. Frankel's candid, evenhanded memoir affectingly depicts a son's struggle to understand himself and his family history. (Oct.)

    Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly Annex.

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