NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive—and to reunite—We Were the Lucky Ones is a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.
“Love in the face of global adversity? It couldn't be more timely.” —Glamour
It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.
As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.
Debut author Hunter excavates the remarkable history of her own family in this chronicle, which follows the journeys of a Polish Jewish family during the Holocaust. The 1939 German invasion of Poland sunders the Kurc family. Aging parents Sol and Nechuma stay in their home of Radom, along with their adult daughters Halina and Mila. Their sons Genek and Jakob join the Polish army; a third son, Addy, is stuck in France, soon to be conscripted. During the course of the war, the Kurcs are flung to distant points on the globe, from Brazil to Siberia. They work for the underground, fight battles in Italy, and are imprisoned in gulags. They stage daring escapes from ghettos, hide in plain sight in Polish cities, and, always, yearn for the days when their family was whole. V-day finds some of the Kurcs together, but the celebration is empty; they are still sundered, mourning, and directionless. The Kurc family's final triumph is not tied to the defeat of the Nazis, but to the family's survival and reunion against impossible odds. However, this is not a saga with a jubilant Hollywood ending. The Kurc family's survival is often due to nothing more than desperate luck. Hunter sidesteps hollow sentimentality and nihilism, revealing instead the beautiful complexity and ambiguity of life in this extraordinarily moving tale.