We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
Over the past few years, since I began keeping track of the books I read, I've noticed that the books I rate the highest are either nonfiction or, if they are fiction, involve a marginalized group of individuals, or both. Maybe this has to do with the type of work that I do, or the life experiences I've had, but these are the stories that seem to be the most impactful and stick with me for the longest period of time.
Shortly after finishing We Were the Lucky Ones, I emailed the author, Georgia Hunter; I'm sure I sounded like a bumbling idiot. I was feeling, as some would say, all the feels. In that email, I mentioned to her that I'd not felt this impacted by a novel, a story, since I was a young girl and read The Diary of Anne Frank (In case you're wondering, she responded quickly and is absolutely delightful.). Of all the novels I read as a youngster, and even as a teenager, the two I think of most often are The Diary of Anne Frank and All Quiet on the Western Front; I guess it's no surprise that I ended up studying the history of our world wars in college.
Even if you're not a fan of either of these time periods, or even of historical fiction, We Were the Lucky Ones is too good to miss: the experiences of a single family, throughout the span of World War II (from the German invasion of Poland in 1939 to V-E Day in 1945, and beyond), and the events that would change their lives, their entire trajectory, forever.
Hunter's writing, her capacity for sharing this story, prompted me to immediately fall in love with the Kurc family. I found myself alternately cringing during the most heinous of their treatment, and the conditions under which they were forced to live, and shouting for joy at every small victory.
Although Hunter has been researching, interviewing and writing for several years, this novel seems quite timely; it is a heartbreakingly realistic reminder that we all share the same desires, the same needs, the same humanity. It is also a reminder that the most horrifying, traumatic experiences of our lives never leave us; rather, they become incorporated into our story, our being, and place us on an entirely different path than the one we might have expected.
After finishing this novel, I seem to have strong emotional surges when I reflect upon it and I'm sure I'll be doing that for quite some time. I feel unequipped to give you an accurate description of its worthiness, but I'll admit that I've already purchased extra copies (I can't remember ever having done this in the past) to give as gifts and I hope that many of you will take the time to read about this nearly unbelievable journey.
As a side note, just when you think you've heard it all, please make sure to read the author's notes at the end...mind blowing!