One of the torrid historical events I have read about, and researched for a school project, is the Holocaust. Whereas the information I put into the project remains forgotten, the event itself resurfaces to mind with books on the topic. No book better than Anne Frank’s diary to touch on the topic. It was recently that I came across another book on it, and I thought I’d give it a go.
Long Journey Home is the memoirs of the author Lusia (Lucy) Lipiner. She returns to Poland and her native village of Sucha Bezkidzka there, to try and find a picture of her mother’s family. She wants to give it to her mother as a gift, the best gift she can give. The journey is not only about traveling the physical miles, but also the emotional miles that seem much more, because she left the country when she was a child. She finds one, of her parents’ engagement, and it opens a path back to her past, and to this memoir. She takes us back to her childhood, introduces her family, and tells how her uncle got caught by the Gestapo. She visits her ancestral home, and takes us along with her. She takes us back to the time when war first came (on a Friday, which she remembers because of Sabbath candles) and how they ran, almost toward the Germans. She tells us how they hid, how they were captured and taken to Siberia. The memoir is about them fleeing one country to another, in a bid to remain safe.
As with any memoir, there is sadness. It makes me feel sad, feel sorry for those families that had to run from one country to another to survive. Some things bring a smile, even though the moment that follows is a sad one, like Lucy unwittingly giving away her relatives’ hiding place because of her concern that they’ll be left behind. There are those moments of wonder, of near escapes. It has photos that tell a tale in itself; that was good. The writing here, perhaps because the book is a flashback, doesn’t manage to bring out that emotion strongly. You know it’s a troubling tale, and you feel glad that Lucy and her family survived, but the narration feels very plain to me.
I don’t think I can read it again. It’s not because of that plainness, but because of the setting of the tale. But it’s worth reading at least the once, because it is a tale of survival, and that’s an inspiration in a way.
Book: Long Journey Home: A Young Girl's Memoir of Surviving the Holocaust
Author: Lucy Lipiner
Author: Lucy Lipiner