Updated: Feb 13, 2020
By Samantha Jacquest
When we hear Nazi Germany, we often think of concentration camps, the genocide of European Jews, and key figures such as Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel. What we don’t always recognize is the millions of other victims that were experiencing the terrorism of Nazis
outside concentration camps, and the people who tried to help along the way.
Based on a true story, We Were the Lucky Ones is the story of the Kurcs, a Jewish family from Poland, living a life of luxury in a time when war was a distant possibility—something that may never come to pass. Within a few chapters and from the perspective of several family members, the Kurcs quickly realize they are on the wrong side of a vicious dictator.
Starting in Poland and Paris, we follow members of the Kurc family as they are forced into work camps, ghettos, slave factories, and run out of their home and their homeland. Author Georgia Hunter uses expert storytelling techniques to describe equal parts despair and perseverance in her characters. In the middle of war, the children of the Kurc family, ranging in age from early to late twenties when the book begins, find the strength to not only survive their tragic circumstances, but also care for others, share their love for one another, and even find the strength and bravery to bring children into an uncertain world.
The book is broken up by chapters from several family members’ perspectives. We follow Halina, the baby of the family, whose bold personality and clever mind saves hers and her family’s lives on several occasions; Addy, who is away from his family when the war begins, and spends the entirety of the book searching for his relatives while being forced further away; Mila, a mother who repeatedly has to make choices that risk her life in order to save her only child. We read from the perspective of nine different people. Nine lives that are intermingled and all equally at risk.
While it’s difficult to say I enjoyed We Were the Lucky Ones due to the countless tragedies that occurred, I can absolutely say that I appreciated it. We are supposed to feel uncomfortable, sad, heartbroken; and we are also supposed to feel triumphant, proud, and appreciative of the lives we lead. We Were the Lucky Ones was a phenomenal novel about the will to live and the strength we find in family.