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We Were the Lucky Ones
Cover of We Were the Lucky Ones
We Were the Lucky Ones
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The New York Times bestseller with more than 1 million copies sold worldwideInspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to...
The New York Times bestseller with more than 1 million copies sold worldwideInspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to...
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  • The New York Times bestseller with more than 1 million copies sold worldwide
    Inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive—and to reunite—We Were the Lucky Ones is a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds. 

     
    “Love in the face of global adversity? It couldn't be more timely.” —Glamour
     
    It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.
     
    As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
     
    An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    Jakob and Bella

    Lvov, Soviet-Occupied Poland ~ October 24, 1939


    Bella steps carefully so as not to clip the backs of Anna’s heels. The sisters move slowly, deliberately, talking in whispers. It’s nine in the evening, and the streets are empty. There isn’t a curfew in Lvov as there is in Radom, but the blackout is still in effect, and with the street lamps extinguished, it’s nearly impossible to see.
     
    “I can’t believe we didn’t bring a flashlight,” Bella whispers.
     
    “I walked the route earlier today,” Anna says. “Just stay close, I know where I’m going.”
     
    Bella smiles. Slinking through backstreets in the pale blue light of the moon reminds her of the nights she and Jakob used to tiptoe at two in the morning from their apartments to make love in the park under the chestnut trees.

    “It’s just here,” Anna whispers.

    They climb a small flight of stairs, entering the house through a side door. Inside, it’s even darker than it is on the street.

    “Stay here for a moment while I light a match,” Anna says, rummaging through her handbag.

    “Yes, ma’am,” Bella says, laughing. All her life it’s been she who bosses Anna about, not the other way around. Anna is the baby, the family’s sweetheart. But Bella knows that behind the pretty face and quiet façade, her sister is whip smart, capable of anything she sets her mind to.

    Despite being two years younger, Anna was the first to marry. She and her husband, Daniel, live just down the street from Bella and Jakob in Lvov—a reality that has softened Bella’s pain at leaving her parents behind. The sisters see each other often and talk frequently about how to convince their parents to make the move to Lvov. But in her letters, Gustava insists that she and Henry are getting by on their own in Radom. Your father’s dentistry is still bringing a bit of income, she wrote in her last correspondence. He’s been treating the Germans. It doesn’t make sense for us to move, not yet at least. Just promise to visit when you can, and to write often.

    “How on earth did you find this place?” Bella asks. She’d been given no address, just told to follow. They’d snaked through so many narrow back alleys on their way, she’d lost her sense of direction.

    “Adam found it,” Anna says, striking a match over and over without a spark. “Through the Underground,” she adds. “Apparently they’ve used it before, as a sort of safe house. It’s abandoned, so we shouldn’t have any surprise visitors.”  

    Finally, a match  takes, emitting a cloud of sharp-smelling sulphur and an amber halo of light.

    “Adam said he left a candle by the faucet,” she mutters, shuffling toward the sink, a hand cupped over the flame. Adam had found the rabbi, too, which Bella knew was no easy task. When Lvov fell, the Soviets stripped the city’s rabbis of their titles and banned them from practicing; those who were unable to find new jobs went into hiding. Yoffe was the only rabbi Adam could find, he said, who wasn’t afraid to officiate a marriage ceremony, under the condition that the wedding take place in secrecy.

    In the match’s faint glow, the room begins to take shape. Bella looks around, at the shadow of a kettle resting on a stove top, a bowl of wooden spoons silhouetted on the counter, a blackout curtain hanging in a window over the sink....

About the Author-

  • When Georgia Hunter was fifteen years old, she learned that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors. We Were the Lucky Ones was born of her quest to uncover her family’s staggering history. Hunter’s website, georgiahunterauthor.com, offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the extensive research this project has entailed. She lives in Connecticut.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 5, 2016
    Debut author Hunter excavates the remarkable history of her own family in this chronicle, which follows the journeys of a Polish Jewish family during the Holocaust. The 1939 German invasion of Poland sunders the Kurc family. Aging parents Sol and Nechuma stay in their home of Radom, along with their adult daughters Halina and Mila. Their sons Genek and Jakob join the Polish army; a third son, Addy, is stuck in France, soon to be conscripted. During the course of the war, the Kurcs are flung to distant points on the globe, from Brazil to Siberia. They work for the underground, fight battles in Italy, and are imprisoned in gulags. They stage daring escapes from ghettos, hide in plain sight in Polish cities, and, always, yearn for the days when their family was whole. V-day finds some of the Kurcs together, but the celebration is empty; they are still sundered, mourning, and directionless. The Kurc family’s final triumph is not tied to the defeat of the Nazis, but to the family’s survival and reunion against impossible odds. However, this is not a saga with a jubilant Hollywood ending. The Kurc family’s survival is often due to nothing more than desperate luck. Hunter sidesteps hollow sentimentality and nihilism, revealing instead the beautiful complexity and ambiguity of life in this extraordinarily moving tale.

  • AudioFile Magazine The Kurcs, a large, prosperous Jewish family, were comfortable in Radom, Poland--until the 1939 German invasion. Finding themselves dispersed all across Europe, South America, and elsewhere, the family does all in its power to reunite after the war. Narrator Kathleen Gati doesn't overdramatize this emotional Holocaust story, but neither does she alter her tone to create identifiable characters. Narrator Robert Fass offers a much-needed break in the story's tension as he delivers the historical aspects of the author's account of her family's experiences prior to and during WWII. Gati's use of a slight accent lends credibility to the hardships and heartaches the Kurcs faced--from terrifying encounters with Nazis to the betrayals of friends that led to hiding and, finally, escape from certain death. Intense listening. S.J.H. � AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine

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