The author begins by telling stories of his childhood, the stories of things that happened to him and things that his family, especially his grandfather, told him. Mendelsohn knows his grandfather's brother, Shmiel, and Shmiel's wife and four daughters, all died during the Holocaust. No one knows exactly how and when. Mendelsohn begins researching these lost family members and about the city of Bolechow, Poland, where they lived. The search takes him all over Europe, to Australia and Israel as well. I can't say too much about what he finds as it would take away from the story. It is a great story though.
Here's a quote:
To be alive is to have a story to tell. To be alive is precisely to be the hero, the center of a life story. when you can be nothing more than a minor character in somebody else's tale, it means that you are truly dead.
I do wish that the pictures had captions. Mendelsohn talks about a lot of people, in his family as well as others he speaks to about the Jagers, and he only randomly posts the pictures but none have captions. sometimes it doesn't matter because he's just described the person in the picture or the picture itself, but other times it is strange because he's talking about the girls and the picture shows several of them. How are we supposed to know which is which? Maybe that is part of his story, the uncertainty of what you think and what you know.
Does anyone else worry about not liking books similar to this one because you'll feel bad? I'm going to tackle Anne Frank in August and i worry about not liking it. Like it will reflect badly on me, on my person, if i don't like it. does that make any sense? I feel like that anytime i read memoirs that cover terrible events. Like i am negating their experiences if i don't like their writing. Just curious.