Book Reviews

By Sandra Hurtes

Review by Judy Weissenberg Cohen
Witness / survivor

I enjoyed Rescue – if “enjoyed” is the right word.

Ms. Hurtes has written a sensitive, fluid, occasionally humorous masterpiece about her tumult and ongoing identity crisis. She is the American-born daughter of Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust – new immigrants to the United States who are searching and working towards a safe future and happy life. Her parents rescued their future children from the fate they had suffered by being someplace else other than blood-soaked, xenophobic Europe.

The author agonizingly searches to understand and find a way out of the weight her parents’ unprecedented memories have laid upon her, and a way to deal with her parents’ pain – albeit second-hand. She writes of her difficult dual affiliation to the old shtetl roots and the new American ones, which she finds incompatible and emotionally divisive.

She describes her ambivalence about identity, love, loyalty, independence, a delicately-described resentment, guilt, and ‘boundaries’ both desired and feared. The author has inherited an emotionally-weighted legacy to manage while seeking happy self-fulfillment as a writer.

The author searches for solutions to her troubled, confused life that will heal her without hurting her loved ones. The pain in her life all too often can be attributed to two factors: 1) the mother and father’s difficult immigrant experiences, the transitions in family life, and the acclimation to the new culture, and 2) the parents’ immense suffering from lethal oppression was compounded by the overwhelming issue of the unique historical context and significance of the Holocaust.

In my opinion, the rescue of all subsequent generations belongs in civil society, providing that we learn important lessons from both personal stories and the historical perspective.



Copyright © 2010 Judy Cohen, all rights reserved.