Painful Joy: A Holocaust Family Memoir by Max J Friedman was the perfect read to counter the fiction book, A Girl in the Stripped Dress. Friedman's book is completely nonfiction and helps the reader understand his parents who were both survivors of the Holocaust. I enjoyed interviewing Max for Online for Authors.
This book is very different than anything I've ever read about the Holocaust. Friedman did extensive research to discover his parent's history and all the things they never spoke of during their lifetime. One of the most poignant moments for me was when he learned of his two half-sister's names, little girls murdered at Auschwitz. I can't begin to imagine how his father, Solomon, continued living when he realized their fate. And yet he did. He remarried a woman who lost her first husband in the same way, had two children, moved to the US, and did his best to survive while haunted by emotional and physical trauma caused by his years in the camp. And his mother did the same - moving forward - despite the trauma that dogged her throughout the rest of her life.
Painful Joy will help you understand what was happening in Poland and Germany prior to and during WWII, some of the things experienced by the Jewish people, and how what happened to the survivors was passed down to the following generations. In this way, the message is one of those I wanted to pass on with An Enemy Like Me, which is this: What a soldier sees and experiences is not something that goes away once the war is over. Instead, the ripples of those things can be felt for generations.
If you want to see the effects of the Holocaust without the frills of a fiction story, then Painful Joy is for you.
Teri M Brown, author of An Enemy Like Me and Sunflowers Beneath the Snow connects readers with characters they'd love to invite to lunch.
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