This is one of the first books I read on my brand new e-reader the Kobo Libra H2O. Although I will never stop buying paper books, I must admit that the lightweight convenience of an e-reader while traveling is perfect. I had high expectations of this book, due to the high ratings and good reviews. Were these expectations grounded? Let’s find out below!
The book cover
In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive. The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience. The Choice is her unforgettable story. It shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.
My first impression
The book starts with her life in Hungary, a little girl that loves to dance and has a difficult mother. However, when she was only 16, she and her family were deported to Auschwitz. When you start reading, you immediately notice this is going to be a special book.
This book is not merely a memoir about her time in Auschwitz, the death march or Gunskirchen. It is a complete story of her time before the Holocaust and after. She experienced and witnessed extreme trauma during the Holocaust, and at liberation she was almost dead herself.
After the liberation she goes to the United States, where she lives in poverty with her husband and kids. She suppresses her memories of the Holocaust, until she starts healing. Later on, she becomes a psychologist specializing in PTSD for veterans and abuse victims. She describes some of her cases in the book.
She believes that you cannot control everything, but you can control your outlook. Also, she acknowledges trauma is trauma, and doesn’t play anything down.
This is a very important book. Reading her life’s story makes you believe that anyone can heal from trauma, as long as they choose to do so. It not easy, but possible. The details in the book about what she experienced and witnessed during the Holocaust are gruesome and horrible. Her struggles after the war are very real and make her optimistic outcome even more impressive.
I can imagine that this book may attract readers that are interested in the Holocaust and that they don’t appreciate the “self help” part of it. To me, it felt original and complete as she focussed on a large part of her life. However, I was not a big fan of the parts about the therapy sessions with her patients.
Conclusion of The Choice
This book really resonated with me. Edith Eger survived hell and eventually turned her trauma into healing and helping others. She truly is an inspiration. It is not often that you get to read about someone’s life after the Holocaust and I feel that this made the book even more special.