The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain
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With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War. Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated. Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.
This book is a stirring and unforgettable novel looking into the experiences of Jewish immigrants during and after World War II.
Watching the immigrants adjust to life in America after so much horror shows their tremendous resilience and faith in their own customs. The Takeaway Men is a character-driven story with a compelling array of people. However, due to the number of characters in the book, I could not connect to any one person.
I want to commend the author for cleverly weaving in several historical elements, including politics, communism, religion and other prejudices prevalent in society, that were going on at the time. In addition, I learned about Jewish customs and some Yiddish words which are also included in the glossary at the end of the book.
Overall, this is a notable and emotional book about the history of Jewish immigration in post-war America.
Thank you to Ms. Ain for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meryl Ain’s articles and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The New York Jewish Week, The New York Times, Newsday, and other publications. The Takeaway Men is her debut novel. In 2014, she co-authored the award-winning book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, and in 2016, wrote a companion workbook, My Living Memories Project Journal. She is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on television, radio, and podcasts. She is a career educator and is proud to be both a teacher and a student of history. She has also worked as a school administrator. The Takeaway Men is the result of her life-long quest to learn more about the Holocaust, a thirst that was first triggered by reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. While teaching high school history, she introduced her students to the study of the Holocaust. At the same time, she also developed an enduring fascination with teaching about and researching the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case. An interview with Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, is featured in her book, The Living Memories Project. The book also includes an interview with Holocaust survivor, Boris Chartan, the founder of the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, New York. Meryl holds a BA from Queens College, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She lives in New York with her husband, Stewart. They have three married sons and six grandchildren.