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Sunday, August 7, 2011

BEA Book Review: Waltzing With The Enemy

by Rasia Kliot and Helen Mitsios
287 pages

Waltzing With the Enemy: A Mother and Daughter Confront the Aftermath of the HolocaustDuring the panel I moderated at BEA I mentioned that I enjoy non-fiction. Immediately after the panel author Helen Mitsios introduced herself, thrilled to finally find a non-fiction fan (she hadn't had much success connecting with the right bloggers at that point). When she told me about the book she'd written with her mother, I knew I wanted to read it.

In the first part of the book Helen's mom, Rasia, explains how she used her wits and some luck to survive the Holocaust.  In the second part of the book Helen describes her own life and how her Rasia's experiences affected her daughter. Helen didn't find out she was Jewish until she was almost a teenager. Combined with other issues in her family, this fact had a huge impact on how Helen viewed herself, which she shares in her portion of the book.

Other than one minor thing which I'll discuss next, I really enjoyed this book. Rasia's experiences and the way she survived are simply amazing and would make for fascinating reading on their own. The fact that her experience affected her daughter's life should be obvious, but I have never read anything about the children of survivors and how they deal with their own (and their parents') issues. Helen's part of the book was well-written and (for the most part) interesting.

And here we come to the one thing I didn't like about the book. A huge part of Helen's story is how she came to grips with her own issues. That's great, because I was very interested in it. However I felt that she spent too much time focusing on which psychologist said what in his latest book and which researcher has a new theory.  This section dragged for me and I feel it could have been cut down considerably.

Other than that one issue though, I really enjoyed this book. I'm so glad Helen came up and introduced herself!


Kailana said...

This sounds really interesting!

Megan said...

This sounds like an interesting book. It sounds weird to say, but I really like reading Holocaust memoirs and the how it impacted the child of, the survivor angle is one that I haven't really seen much of. I'll have to check this one out!

Grace at Feeding My Book Addiction said...

Like Megan, I also like reading Holocaust memoirs and other related books. I feel compelled to read them and to try to understand what and how it happened even though the books usually give me nightmares. I just requested this book from my library. Thanks for posting this interesting and honest review.

Grace at Feeding My Book Addiction

Jenny said...

This sounds vey similar to Bending Toward the Sun which is another that shows how the mother's trauma ultimately affected her daughter and even her granddaughter. This one sounds good too though.

Anna said...

I was thinking of Bending Toward the Sun, too, which Jenny mentioned.

This sounds very interesting, though I bet the part about the psychoanalytical research would drag for me too.

I've linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I just got my copy yesterday. I had a chance to chat with her too. She was really lovely. I could tell it was hard for her to navigate the Author Speed Dating so I wanted to give her a chance to chat about it. She was great.

Unknown said...

This sounds like a powerful and fascinating book as well sad and inspiring particularly Raisa's story. I've never read anything about what life is like for the children of Holocaust surviviors and I think Helen's story is probably interesting. It's too bad that she spends alot of the book on pyschologists and their theories rather than on her own story.

Thank you for bringing this book to our attention. I'm going to look it up and read it at some point, too.

Marie Cloutier said...

sounds like a neat book but I would probably be bored by hte psychological stuff, LOL :-)

Dreamybee said...

How sad that the author was having such a hard time finding a non-ficiton fan base, especially for a holocaust story. I hope she managed to connect with more bloggers like you! This sounds like a great story and, as you said, a slightly different take on the far-raeching effects of one person's experience.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This sounds good! Thanks for reviewing it Heather.

Amy said...

Something totally different and interesting! Thanks for the review

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