Sunday, August 13, 2017

Of Survival and Hope: Macky Reads Choices

Choices book cover
I’m wiping tears at midnight, heart full and stomach grumbly (nothing like a good emotional read to make one want to have cookies). Reading the last page of Choices was just pure joy. When I’d asked Smith Publicity for a copy of the book after they so kindly offered me th chance to review it, I didn’t know what to expect beyond the blurb. 

It’s a non-fiction story about how the author’s family escaped post-World War II Soviet-controlled Hungary. I have a soft spot for WWII stories, specifically survivor stories, thanks to Anne Frank. And though I don’t go out of my way to find these stories, I do stop and listen or read when they cross my path. How glad I was that I did stop and go out of my way to ask for Choices, and I'm even gladder to have gotten a copy of it. 

J.E. Laufer, who we get to know at first as two year old Judit at the time our tale begins, has written a beautiful account of her family’s escape from Hungary. She has managed to capture the strength and courage of her mother and father in a way that I think so few people can even do, let alone actually accomplish. 

It’s so masterfully done how she strings the narrative forward, occasionally backtracking to a flashback before moving the story forward in real-time. I’m like an amateur cook trying to taste the ingredients in a particularly well made meal when I say this, but at this point I believe her secret is in simplicity and juxtaposition. 

Like how, partway through the escape, she tastefully, from the POV of her mother Kati, flashes back to how Kati survived Auschwitz. Or how, when the narrative finally hits present day, with Judy, all grown up and writing kids books, she manages to pick out just the right string of events to talk about as Judy reunites with figures from her past she was too young to know but helped her family make it to Canada as immigrants. 

Choices is not the only story of this kind out there, but it remains very special simply by how well it was written and how deeply it has moved me. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I understood enough to know why it brought me to tears. All those years, all that history. All because a husband and wife decided to choose what was best for their children. I dig that. I was raised by parents who live and breathe that. So, it hit home. If you want a beautiful, short, sweet but very heartfelt read, pick up a copy of Choices, and maybe some Kleenex while you're at it.


Publisher: Itasca Books | Publication Date: May 15, 2017
Source: Paperback received from the publisher (Thanks!)

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