Once We Were Home - a moving story about children hidden during WWII.
Once We Were Home is a very moving story inspired by the many Jewish children whose parents made the gut-wrenching decision to send their children away to safety during World War II. The book starts with Roger's story. In 1946, seven-year-old Roger had been hidden in the Convent of Sainte Marie de Sion in France. Now that the war has ended, the church does not want to give Roger up and tries to keep him from being reunited with a Jewish relative. The book moves to the story of a young girl and her brother, who were renamed Ana and Oskar. They had been sent to a childless couple in the countryside of Poland for safety. Like Roger, Ana and Oskar were also raised Catholic. After the war, efforts were made by a Jewish agency to ensure that the children were relocated and raised among people of their Jewish faith. But Ana and Oskar come to view the couple as their parents, especially Oskar, who has no memory of his true parents, and doesn't want to leave the only home he has ever known. As the three children grow up, they have to deal with their feelings of loss and confusion over their identities. Once the storyline enters the 1960s, the character of Reneta is introduced. Working in Israel as an architect, she is determined to find out why her recently deceased mother tried to erase their German heritage.
Like her previous book, The Yellow Bird Sings, Jennifer Rosner has written beautiful prose and has done her research well to present what happened to some of the children who were displaced during the war. Many were sheltered and protected by kind people who put their own safety at risk. Yet there were children who were kept hidden and ended up never knowing their true backgrounds. Your heart will be heavy for Rosner's characters. And while Once We Were Home is a standalone, if you read her last book, you'll be pleased with the connection.
This story of love and family is well worth reading.
Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: March 14, 2023.
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