Monday, November 27, 2023

Review: We Must Not Think of Ourselves by Lauren Grodstein

We Must Not Think of Ourselves
Lauren Grodstein 

Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads: On a November day in 1940, Adam Paskow becomes a prisoner in the Warsaw Ghetto, where the Jews of the city are cut off from their former lives and held captive by Nazi guards, and await an uncertain fate. Weeks later, he is approached by a mysterious figure with a surprising request: Will he join a secret group of archivists working to preserve the truth of what is happening inside these walls? Adam agrees and begins taking testimonies from his students, friends, and neighbors. He learns about their childhoods and their daydreams, their passions and their fears, their desperate strategies for safety and survival. The stories form a portrait of endurance in a world where no choices are good ones.

One of the people Adam interviews is his flatmate Sala Wiskoff, who is stoic, determined, and funny—and married with two children. Over the months of their confinement, in the presence of her family, Adam and Sala fall in love. As they desperately carve out intimacy, their relationship feels both impossible and vital, their connection keeping them alive. But when Adam discovers a possible escape from the Ghetto, he is faced with an unbearable choice: Whom can he save, and at what cost?

Kritters Thoughts:  A historical fiction set in the time period of World War II, but thankfully we are not inside a concentration camp, but conditions are close in this Warsaw Ghetto.  A teacher, Adam Paskow is living in an apartment with two other families as they are just trying to survive until this war ends.  Adam is asked to document the lives of those living in the Warsaw Ghetto and recording the big and the small of life inside in hopes that it can be shared when all is said and done.  

While I do read a lot of historical fiction, I tend to limit my reading of World War II books because it all just seems so sad and while I am not denying the horror of it, I don't want to read too much of it.  This one sounded interesting from the synopsis and it lived up to my wonder of how this author would share this community at this time.  I loved how Grodstein made me feel the humanity of these characters, they weren't just a number in a war, but instead we learned of their back stories and I liked reading the mundane of the day to day survival of it all. 

My first read of Lauren Grodstein and will by no means by my last.  I would love to read her two previous novels and then I surely hope for more in the future.  This is a book I will recommend to readers who haven't read a lot of World War II AND for those who feel they have read it all!  

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Ebook 2023 Challenge: 7 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Algonquin books.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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