Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My Sister’s Mother By Donna Urbikas Review

My Sister’s Mother
By Donna Urbikas

ISBN-10: 0299308502
ISBN-13: 978-0299308506
University of Wisconsin Press
Hardcover, 272 pgs
 April 26, 2016 $26.95

Donna Urbikas' half-sister Mira was five when she and her mother Janina were taken from their small family farm in eastern Poland and shipped to a hard-labor camp in Siberia amid the turmoil of World War II. That shared experience of war and exile created a bond between mother and daughter—an exceptionally close relationship that Donna, born years after the war and raised in the Midwest, would struggle to achieve with either of them.  
Yet, despite Donna's comparatively privileged upbringing in postwar America, the events of war-torn Europe cast a long shadow on her life. She grew up fascinated by stories of wartime deprivation, but at the same time drawn to mainstream America and the elusive dream of a "normal" American family. In the years that followed, Donna lived through ordeals of her own as she first coped with cancer and then watched a son struggle with the same disease. In her own way, she realized, she was also a survivor, like her mother and sister. 
In My Sister's Mother Urbikas recounts Janina's arrest in Poland, the grueling journey to Siberia with her young daughter Mira, the hunger and sickness that attended their life in the camps, and their refuge in Persia, India, England, and finally the United States. Interweaved with her mother's and sister's memories of their past are the author's own experiences—less dramatic, to be sure, but also requiring reservoirs of inner strength.
At the broadest level, this is the story of a woman trying to reconcile her identity as a first-generation American with her awareness of herself as a second-generation survivor of World War II and its tremendous upheavals.
My Review:
This was an interesting read. I had read about the Jewish people and my uncle was a POW in War World II, but I have not read about how the Polish were treated during this time. I was planning on reading a lot about history and the war. I was pleasantly surprised when the author made the book more about routine relationships between mothers and daughters. Even under the most stressful of circumstances. There is a bond between women and especially mothers and daughters. I am giving this book a 4/5. I was given a copy, all opinions are my own.

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