Read advance reader review of Once We Were Home by Jennifer Rosner, page 2 of 3

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Once We Were Home

by Jennifer Rosner

Once We Were Home by Jennifer Rosner X
Once We Were Home by Jennifer Rosner
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2023, 288 pages

    Mar 12, 2024, 288 pages


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There are currently 21 member reviews
for Once We Were Home
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  • Carol S. (Mt. Juliet, TN)
    Where is home?
    Once We Were Home is a great title for this beautifully written and well-researched account of the lives of four children who were hidden or stolen during WWII to protect them from the Nazis and "save" them. The story follows these children for decades (1946-1968) even as they become adults with their own children. They all suffer and feel sadness as they search with hope for their birth families and real homes, following clues they uncover in their young lives.

    There were sources of help - the families who took them in and loved them and others who fought the attempts of the church to hide these children from their true Jewish heritage and birth families under the guise of "saving" them.

    For some in the story "home" was an illusion where hope was slowly and sadly extinguished. For others, families persevered, bringing these children as close to home as they would ever get. Some were left with clues they continued to pursue. Others felt a sense of peace but "home" and who they really were was almost impossible to decipher.

    Ms. Rosner's writes an important historical novel with a story that needs to be told.

    Nazi Germany during this era had a devastating impact on even the youngest and most vulnerable - innocent children. I was delighted to see that Ms. Rosner included a character in this narrative from The Yellow Bird Sings - a hopeful sign in the search for home for at least one child.
  • Virginia P. (Tallahassee, FL)
    The emotional story of redemption of Jewish children
    The author of When We Were Home, Jennifer Rosner, tells a very compelling story of the redemption of Jewish Children. Writing about 4 children who were sheltered and raised by Protestant and Catholic families during the war, she explains their feelings and reactions when their birth families try to claim them after the war. These particular difficulties of WWII were not something I was familiar with and I had never given this redemption any thought. I now see the emotional upheaval that was came about as a result and it makes me wonder how I would have reacted had I been an affected child, parent or foster parent. The author lists many sources for her story and a good explanation of what happened in the redemption. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn about this part of WWII history.
  • Terry G. (McLean, VA)
    When We Were Home
    This is a story about love: the power of love and how love makes a home. It is a story about: the love of a natural parent who loves their child enough to give that child away to save the child; the love of an adopting parent for the child placed in their care; the love a child returns to an adult who loves them; the love between siblings; and the love adults find for one another. It is the story of how love bridges distance, overcomes evil, conquers hate and endures in the face of horrific circumstances. It is a story how love is a font for hope and loyalty. It is a story of how love can give the power to forgive. This is also a story of children: their resilience; their adaptability, their trust for the adults who love them and their bravery. It is a story about home: how a home is anywhere there is love, trust and loyalty.

    The writing is sensitive: you feel the danger, love, trust and bravery through the writing. You fear, cheer, endure, and laugh – all the emotions felt by the characters. The writing places you in the story.

    After reading this book, I have a greater compassion for the unaccompanied children crossing the Southern Border into the United States. I feel the pain of the parents who gave up their children so the children can be free of fear and have a chance at a better life, the fear of those children, the generosity and kindness of the adults who care for these children and the loyalty of siblings during and after the journey from "home" to America. This book could be about those children.   
    If you liked "Before We Were Yours," "Suddenly Jewish" (by Barbara Kessel) or "Sarah's Key," you will love this book.
  • Elizabeth P. (Lower Burrell, PA)
    Elizabeth - Silver's Reviews - Exquisite writing - beautiful, heartbreaking story line
    Beautifully told in her mesmerizing style, Jennifer Rosner introduces us to four characters who suffered through the war and beyond.

    We meet Ana and Oskar whose mother had to give her children to a Polish family who would raise them as their own to keep them safe.

    The children had a wonderful life of learning and love but a life that heart-wrenchingly changed after the war.

    Where will Ana and Oskar end up?

    We meet Roger who grew up in a convent to be kept safe, who was very inquisitive, a clever, witty writer of stories and jokes, and sadly had no parents to go home with on holidays.

    We find out what happens to him and where he goes.

    We meet Renata as an adult who is a scientist in Israel at an archeological dig. We learn of Israel's beauty as Renata takes side trips to Tel Aviv and other places.

    On her shopping trip she finds a hand-chiseled chessboard and an ornately carved set of nesting boxes.

    Could the craftsman in the shop be none other than Oskar whose uncle taught him to whittle and make beautiful shapes out of wood?

    I will dearly miss the characters…especially Oskar….he was my favorite.

    It also was fun to see our favorite violinist again from THE YELLOW BIRD SINGS.

    Another beautiful, beautiful but heartbreaking-to-the-core read based on true events.

    ONCE WE WERE HOME does have some happy stories tucked inside as well, along with comments you will ponder, and thoughts about life's worries and lessons.

    Historical fiction fans will devour this marvelously written, impeccably researched read where Ms. Rosner introduces readers to a little known program organized after the war for displaced children.

    Ms. Rosner's writing is exquisite.
  • Karna B. (Long Beach, CA)
    A memorable read
    A hard book to read at times due to the trauma experienced by small children being separated from their parents to keep them safe from the Nazi's. Yet, at the same time it is a book that is hard to put down. Rosner, in her exquisite writing, brings each of the four protagonists alive and in so doing makes you grieve, care for and love each of them. This is a story not to be missed especially given the sentiments of some in this country.
  • Barbara H. (Thomasville, GA)
    Saving the children.....
    This is a beautifully written novel enlightening many of us about a time in WWII history that most of us never knew about - a time "swept under the rug" that was not taught in our history classes. This is not just a story about what happened to so many children of the war, but also a story about the entanglements and justifications of religion that allowed these children to be "kidnapped" without guilt and kept from their birth families.

    This is a story about the "lost' Jewish children of WWII that were initially handed over - or stolen from terrified, distraught Jewish parents to be protected and saved from the war but then deemed necessary to save them their Jewishness as well. Most of these children who were to be temporarily protected never saw birth families again. They were shuffled from family to family, place to those who felt they were really saving the children.

    Each child depicted in this novel is so beautifully real that you can almost feel their breath upon you as you read their stories. And I suppose the underlying question that this novel - and history itself - leaves us with is - were the children really protected? Was this undertaking that morphed into something entirely different, justified by religious views, really in the best interest of the children involved? Hard question - with so many different answers and justifications.

    Beautifully written book!
  • Joan V. (Miller Place, NY)
    Where is Home?
    This book was very different from other WWII books that I have read. It takes place over several decades from the late 1940s to 1968. It deals with four Jewish children who were separated from their parents and hidden during the war to keep them safe from the Nazi. After the war several organizations tried to return them to their surviving families. This had long lasting effects and sometimes caused psychological damage to the children.

    Three of them were brought up Catholic from a very early age and had no knowledge or memories of their Jewish faith. They were left searching for religious roots and did not feel comfortable in either religion. Several were moved around to different families and didn't remember their own parents and when they did end up with their own families they were strangers, albeit welcoming ones.

    Ms. Rosen managed to convey the fear people had, not just the children, but also their parents or the surrogate caretakers of being discovered. Her description of the early founding of the state of Israel and life on a kibbutz was very interesting.

    Running throughout the book was the theme of "home" and what it meant to the various characters.

    This book would be a great book club choice as there are a lot of topics to discuss.
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