Boy from Buchenwald. Robbie Waisman with Susan McClelland. 2021. [May] 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: I remember where I come from.
Premise/plot: Boy from Buchenwald is a memoir of Holocaust survivor Robbie Waisman (Romek Wajsman). It isn't your typical straight forward, strictly chronological memoir. The memoir open with Romek (and other boys from Buchenwald including Elie Wiesel) arriving in France after liberation. Much of the focus is on what happens next, what happens after liberation, how does one move forward with one's life. Physically there is much to recover from--but emotionally and psychologically, there isn't really a time table for that.
Plenty of this book focuses on the time he spent waiting, waiting, waiting, still waiting to find out any definitive news of what happened to each and every family member. Is he the only one from his family to survive? Or are there a few others--siblings perhaps--that are just in other displaced person camps?
The book contains flashes of his life before liberation. These are italicized mainly. And I think the structure of the book recreates his healing process. He had to come to terms with his whole story and that involved remembering. But remembering wasn't easy--it was overwhelming. The way forward involved coming to terms with all his past--the good, the terrifying, and each and every emotion in between.
My thoughts: At times I felt a little disconnected with this one but perhaps that is because the author himself was struggling to connect his past to his present to his future. I appreciate that this one focuses mainly--though not exclusively--on what happens after liberation. There are plenty of memoirs that focus on what happened during the war years, they leave readers with a happily ever after when the camps are liberated by the Allies. This one chooses a different path--the one less taken perhaps.
How does one move forward? How does one come to terms with what happened all the while moving forward? How does one go about grieving (and healing) when the wounds are that DEEP and the pain and sorrow so strong? How do you learn to trust again? (Or do you?) And what about the feelings of guilt and fear and anger, etc. How can you avoid giving into despair?
As I mentioned this one focuses on the first year or two--perhaps three???--after liberation as he is growing up and learning to live one day at a time.
© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews