We Were the Lucky Ones

I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for at least a year, if not longer. I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction, but so often anymore it’s hit or miss whether it’s a good story or if it falls flat. So maybe that’s why it took me a while to get to Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones.

Based on her own family history, Hunter’s story follows the Kurc family during World War II. The Polish-Jewish family can’t fathom what awaits them as anti-Jewish pogroms and Nazi mentality spreads throughout Poland and Eastern Europe. As their freedom and very humanity is slowly stripped away, the Kurc family continues fighting and hoping for one thing–to be reunited in a safe place, away from the hate and the war.

Scattered across Europe and even across the sea into South America, the Kurc family endures hardship after hardship, including the aching unknowing of the fates of beloved brothers, sisters, parents, and other family members. But somehow, defying all probability, the Kurc family is one of the lucky families, and from the darkness they emerge with hope and light.

Unlike many World War II stories, We Were the Lucky Ones has a happy ending–one that would seem unbelievable, if it weren’t based on the author’s own family experiences. From escaping what seemed to be certain death to reuniting after years of separation, the family’s hope and resilience shines inspirational.

Hunter writes each member’s experiences from their perspectives, which does make it a little more challenging to sink into the story, as it lacks a certain degree of connection due to the family’s separation and loss of contact for the duration of the war.

But Hunter does a great job of capturing the thoughts and feelings of her family, in ways that are relatable, even to readers far removed from the traumas of war and persecution. Taking her family history and sharing it in novel form breathes a degree of life into her story that is missing from others, and that life makes it compelling and powerful.

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